Have you been told you should have a lower cholesterol level? If you think you have a good cholesterol level based off a test taken ten years ago, think again! According to cardiologists, individuals, ages 20 and older, should have their cholesterol checked once every 5 years. If you happen to be at risk of high cholesterol, then you should get checked more often than every 5 years.
Basics of Cholesterol
You will often hear of LDL. This stands for low-density lipoprotein and is your “bad cholesterol.” High-density lipoprotein (HDL), is “good cholesterol.”
Your doctor may recommend one of two tests, a fasting total cholesterol level or a non-fasting cholesterol level. Your fasting total cholesterol level, also called a lipid profile, measures lipoprotein, LDL, HDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides. This should not exceed 200.
The non-fasting cholesterol test shows total cholesterol and HDL Cholesterol.
Why Is It Important to Know Your Cholesterol Levels?
Your doctor can use your cholesterol levels to know if you are risk of having a stroke or heart problem over the next ten years. Furthermore, your doctor can come up with a proactive game plan to helping you reduce your cholesterol if it needs to be reduced.
Here are several methods on how to lower cholesterol. The good news is that if your LDL is higher than what is healthy, these are easy measures to take that can quickly lower LDL levels. The results in LDL reduction can be seen in as early as 6 weeks.
- Quitting Smoking: Smoking causes your good cholesterol (HDL) to go down
- Exercise: Exercise can cause your good HDL cholesterol levels to rise. It can also help control weight and high blood pressure
- Eating low cholesterol foods. Your daily cholesterol intake should be less than 300 grams according to the American Heart Association. If you are already at risk, you should eat less than 200 grams.
- Avoid saturated fat
Foods To Lower Cholesterol & Blood Pressure
- Fruits: apples, berries, oranges, pears, tomatoes, grapes
- Vegetables: zucchini, kale, eggplant, squash, celery, leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower
- Some dairy products:Dairy is a great source of calcium, but lower fat and non-fat options are better than the regular version. Some examples include: milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese and sour cream.
- Meats, poultry, fish, tofu: Choose lean options of each of these.
- Beans and grains: whole wheat, beans and grains offer great sources of fiber to help lower your cholesterol level.
While several medications are available to help lower your cholesterol, statins appear to be the treatment of choice. Statins are a category of drugs that lower cholesterol through inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA that affects the production of cholesterol in the liver. And the liver accounts for 70% of our body’s cholesterol production. Statins and can lower your LDL cholesterol from 20%-50%, as well as help prevent cardiovascular disease.
This information is a great starting place to begin taking proactive steps toward a healthier heart. However, it would be great to come up with a more formal plan with the help of a medical professional. Don’t know which doctor to go to? Check out our Top10MD prevention cardiologists today!