Understanding Your Cholesterol Levels
At this point, it's no secret that high cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease or stroke. But many Americans may not know their cholesterol numbers or what they mean.
In addition to keeping your levels in check by making healthy lifestyle choices, follow these guidelines to learn what your cholesterol levels are and what they mean.
LDL Cholesterolis also known as bad cholesterol, and high levels of this substance can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries to form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow arteries and make them less flexible. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, a heart attack or stroke can occur. You are considered high risk if your LDL levels are above 160 mg/dL, according to the National Institutes of Health. Levels between 130 and 159 are borderline high.
HDL Cholesterolis also called good cholesterol, because higher levels of HDL seem to protect against heart attack, while low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL) may increase the risk of heart disease. Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and to the liver, where it's passed out of the body. HDL levels of at least 60 mg/dL are more likely to protect you against heart disease.
Triglyceridesare a form of fat made in the body. Excess weight, a lack of physical activity, cigarette smoking, high alcohol consumption, and a carbohydrate-rich diet may elevate triglycerides. A high number of people with heart disease and/or diabetes also have high triglyceride levels of more than 200 mg/dL.
If you've recently had a cholesterol test, your results could include all of above components. Ideally, your total cholesterol levels should be desirable, which means below 200 mg/dL. Levels between 201 and 239 are considered borderline high, while anything above 240 is high. If your cholesterol is highor even borderline highcheck out these nine tips to help lower your levels.
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