Do you know what a normal cholesterol level is? Have you ever had your cholesterol levels measured? Do you understand the adverse effects of a cholesterol level that’s too high? If you want to learn more about cholesterol, how it affects your health and how you can improve it, keep reading.
What is Cholesterol and What is a Normal Cholesterol Level?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood. This substance in itself is not harmful, and the body needs a certain amount to function properly. However, as levels rise, cholesterol begins to clog the arteries – a condition known as atherosclerosis – which can lead to heart disease or a heart attack. If the arteries that carry blood to the brain are sufficiently blocked, a stroke can occur.
To test your cholesterol levels, your doctor will draw blood and do what’s called a lipid fat test. In this test, they’ll check for triglycerides, high density lipid protein and low density lipid protein (a bad fat). When measuring your cholesterol levels, they are measured as milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood – so, mg/dL.
A normal or ideal level of cholesterol is anything under 200 mg/dL. A mid-range or potentially dangerous level of cholesterol is within the range of 201 and 239 mg/DL. And a high or dangerous level of cholesterol is considered to be 240 mg/DL or more.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
Unfortunately, the symptoms associated with high cholesterol don’t appear until there is a severe physical impact – either after a heart attack or stroke occurs. The only way to check for high cholesterol is by doing a lipid test. If your doctor spots a high cholesterol level alongside poor living habits, he or she will likely suggest you change your lifestyle and diet.
How High Cholesterol Levels are Treated
Typically, your doctor will assess your condition on an individual basis, taking into account the number of risk factors you have for heart disease. If your levels are higher than they should be, your treatment will likely aim to lower those levels by modifying your lifestyle and possibly through taking medication.
The most common treatment method for dealing with high cholesterol is changing your diet. By taking out fatty foods and high salt products, patients will lose weight and cholesterol points. Sometimes, losing a few pounds is all that’s needed.
A diet that’s high in mono-unsaturated fats, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fruit and vegetables can be very helpful when trying to reduce cholesterol levels. This type of diet is often referred to as a Mediterranean diet thanks to its use of olive oil, nuts and other “good” – or healthy – fats.
A healthy diet when combined with a nominal amount of daily exercise can help bring you back to a normal cholesterol level. To maintain that level, continue to eat well, cut back on smoking and coffee, and engage in daily exercise.
An imbalanced cholesterol level is nothing to disregard. Recommendations you receive from your physician need to be taken seriously and followed for your ongoing health.