In younger people (20 and above) cholesterol levels need to be checked every 5 years. Men who are 45 years old and above should get their levels checked every year or more, while women should monitor their cholesterol closely after they have reached menopause. But this only begs the question – what is considered a normal cholesterol level?
The blood test used to screen for lipid problems is called a lipid profile or lipid panel. It checks for total cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein), LDL (low density lipoprotein), and triglycerides. It’s important to know that the numbers themselves are not sufficient to determine your risk of heart problems. Rather, they’re part of a much bigger equation that includes your blood pressure level, your age, whether or not you’re a smoker, and if you are taking any blood pressure medications.
Also known as the good cholesterol, getting a higher number for your HDL means you have a lower risk of heart disease. HDL removes bad cholesterol from your blood thus preventing it from clogging your arteries. You should have HDL of over 60 mg/dL to gain some protection against cardiovascular diseases.
Also referred to as the bad cholesterol, LDL cholesterol increases your risk for heart diseases because it can build up on the arterial walls forming plaque. Normal level is 100-129 mg/dL although it’s best to have less than 100 mg/dL of LDL.
Triglycerides are a type of fat that can be found in the blood. Calories from the food you eat that isn’t utilized by the body becomes triglycerides and are stored in the fat cells. These fats have been linked to an increased risk of coronary artery disease. Normal level is less than 150 mg/dL.
Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL. If yours is between 200-239 then it is already considered borderline high. Patients with total cholesterol of 240 or more is considered high risk and must be treated ASAP.
Importance of Normal Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is essential to the body but too much of it is very dangerous. The main problem is that most people with high cholesterol will hardly ever notice any symptoms, and the only true symptoms can be fatal.
Excess cholesterol in the body (bad cholesterol) can cause the hardening of the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. If left untreated, this can cause stroke (if the blood clot goes to the brain) or heart attack (if the clot travels to the heart).
High cholesterol can also lead to gallstones, and 80% of all gallstones are cholesterol stones, according to the Nat’l Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse.
You need to know your cholesterol numbers and talk to your doctor so that the appropriate treatment can be given. In most cases, getting your cholesterol to normalize can be achieved by making some changes in your diet and by exercising.
Is your cholesterol level normal? Get checked now before it’s too late.