Cholesterol By Heather Wheeler
Why is Cholesterol Important?
- It makes up the parts of the cell membrane and organelle membranes
- It helps create bile in the liver to help digest foods properly to prevent blockage of arteries
- Aides in the production of steroid hormones which preform other important duties in the body
- Enables learning and memory
- Can be converted into Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight
Why are the levels being monitored?
Cholesterol testing can help to determine a person's risk of the buildup of plaques in arteries which can lead to blocked or narrowed arteries throughout the body. High cholesterol has no signs or symptoms, so cholesterol testing is needed to determine a person's cholesterol levels. High LDL levels and low HDL levels are a risk factor of heart disease because that can cause blocked or narrowed arteries. Cholesterol testing can provide a physician with a patient's LDL and HDL levels and help them to figure out if there cholesterol levels are too high.
What is being measured?
- Total cholesterol: The sum of the body's cholesterol levels
- HDL cholesterol: Removes excess cholesterol from blood stream and moves it to the liver
- LDL cholesterol: Transports cholesterol to the cells and can cause buildup of plaque in arteries
- Triglycerides: Type of fat in blood, high levels of triglycerides are associated with heart disease and plaque buildup
Meaning of Results and How to Interpret Them
Total cholesterol level results show if the amount of cholesterol in the body is too high, borderline high or optimal. 240 mg/dL is considered high, 200-239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and 200 mg/dL or below is considered to be the optimal total cholesterol level.
LDL results can be interpreted differently depending on whether diabetes or heart disease is present. 190 mg/dL is considered very high for everyone, 100-129 mg/dL is considered near optimal for people without heart disease buy is considered high for those with heart disease and 70 mg/dL or below is considered best for people with heart disease of diabetes. Overall, the lower a person's LDL levels are, the better it is because high levels of LDL can lead to a buildup of plaque in arteries.
HDL results are interpreted in the opposite way of LDL levels. Having high HDL levels is the best option, which is typically considered to be 60 mg/dL or higher. Lower levels of HDL are considered to be poor or slightly better because it is not being able to do its job as well when lower levels are present.
Triglyceride levels like LDL levels should be lower. The lower the the number the better. 150 mg/dL or less is the most desirable amount of triglycerides that should be present.