Cholesterol: What should be the normal level of cholesterol? Here is the complete information
Normal levels of cholesterol vary by age and gender. These guidelines show desirable total, non-HDL, LDL, and HDL levels by age and gender.
LDL Cholesterol Levels:
If you do not have heart or blood vessel disease and you are not at high risk of developing heart disease, the ideal (or better) number is less than 100 mg/dL.
If you have heart or blood vessel disease or several risk factors, your healthcare provider may want your LDL level to be below 70 mg/dL. If you have diabetes, your healthcare provider has told you to keep your LDL level below 100 mg/dL or below 70 mg/dL.
Triglycerides are important because most of the fat in your body exists as triglycerides. These levels are often higher in people with diabetes or obesity. For triglycerides, the details are:
Less than 150 is normal.
150-199 is borderline high.
More if they are 200-499.
Too much if they are 500 or more.
HDL cholesterol levels:
The number you want to be higher is the HDL number (remember, this is the good cholesterol).
HDL under the age of 40 is considered poor and a risk factor for heart disease in both men and women.
An HDL level of 40 or higher for men is considered good to reach.
An HDL level of 50 or higher for women is considered good to reach.
An HDL of 60 or higher is considered excellent and protective against heart disease.
Although there is no clear number for what LDL levels are too low, levels below 40 mg/dL may be associated with certain health problems, including depression/anxiety and hemorrhagic stroke.
However, there is data from clinical trials to support that there is no evidence of harm when LDLs remain <40mg/dl on statin therapy.
In some cases, genetic conditions can cause you to have low cholesterol levels. In other cases, nutritional problems, some cancers, hypothyroidism and some infections can cause low cholesterol levels. In any case like this, the underlying issues need to be addressed. There have been studies on the possible relationship between high HDL and cancer, and among the high risk is an increased risk of heart attack. High HDL can be inactive HDL and not protective.
What factors affect cholesterol levels?
A variety of factors can affect your cholesterol levels. They are:
Diet: Saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol in the food you eat can raise cholesterol levels. Try to reduce the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol in your diet. It helps lower your blood cholesterol levels. Saturated and trans fats have the greatest effect on blood cholesterol.
Weight: In addition to being a risk factor for heart disease, being overweight can raise your triglycerides. Losing weight can help lower your triglyceride levels and raise your HDL.
Exercise: Regular exercise lowers total cholesterol levels. Exercise has the greatest effect on lowering triglycerides and raising HDL. You should try to be physically active for 30 minutes most days of the week.
Age and Gender: With age, cholesterol levels increase. Before menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. However, after menopause, women’s LDL levels rise and HDL may fall.
Heredity: Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body produces. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
What do you need to know about cholesterol and heart disease?
Preventing and treating heart disease is the same reason your doctor checks cholesterol levels. Heart disease is a general term that can be applied to many conditions, but in this case, we are talking about coronary artery disease (CAD).
How is high cholesterol treated?
There are several ways to lower high blood cholesterol (total cholesterol), including lifestyle changes or medications, or both. A doctor will examine you to determine which treatment (or combination of treatments) is best for you.
Doctors prefer to start with the least invasive treatments possible, such as lifestyle changes. You will be advised to:
Avoid tobacco. If you smoke, quit. Smoking is bad for you in many ways and lowering your good cholesterol levels is one of them.
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Change the way you eat. Limit trans fats and saturated fats. Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and whole grains. Limit red meat, sugary products and dairy products made with whole milk.
Exercise more. Try to get about 150 minutes of physical activity each week
Maintain a healthy weight. When you lose weight, consult a doctor. Losing 10% of your body weight can make a difference in your cholesterol levels.