Cholesterol is a natural sterol that is produced in the liver; it is a vital part of a healthy body as it acts as a structural component of the cell membranes and helps the body to absorb various vitamins. Cholesterol becomes a problem when there is too much in the body.
Sometimes this is due to some hereditary condition but in most cases it is caused by what the person eats. Animals products, especially fat and dairy products have cholesterol in them. Eating too much of these types of foods or not exercising enough can lead to high cholesterol.
High cholesterol is not really noticeable to the person that has it. The first indication that they have a high cholesterol level may be during a regular check up at the doctors. However high cholesterol is believed to increase the risk of heart disease and thickening of the arteries. Both of these conditions can be life threatening so it is important to reduce cholesterol if the level is high. This article will discuss how you test cholestrol and the various tests available.
Anyone over 40 should be screened for cholesterol. This should be done as part of a regular check up every few years. A typical cholesterol test should be done as part of a lipid profile. A lipid profile essentially measures the amount and make up of lipids in the bloodstream.
Lipids are fats that attach them to lipoproteins in the bloodstream. Some of the lipids measured are:
LDL or low density lipoprotein cholesterol that is considered to be bad cholesterol because it thickens the walls of the artery;
HDL or high density lipoprotein cholesterol that is considered to be good cholesterol because it transports cholesterol to the liver where it is excreted;
Triglycerides that are fat molecules that are used as energy for the body. They are transported throughout the body on very low density lipoproteins (VLDL);
And total cholesterol. The total cholesterol reading of 200mg / dl is a normal reading. Anything over 250mg / dl is considered high.
Blood is drawn from a vein and then sent to a laboratory for analysis. This could take up to a week or longer to be returned. The analysis will be returned to your health practitioner who will decide a course of action should the reading be high or getting high.
There are home testing kits available if you are curious about your cholesterol level. They are not as accurate as a proper blood test but the y can give you some indication that you may have a high cholesterol reading. If you do have a high reading then it is probably a good idea to get a proper test. Home testing kits are cheap and work by analyzing a drop of blood taken from the finger. Most kits will analyze the blood in a few seconds and then give some color coded result. Green is low, red is high for example. Home test kits are generally good for one test only.
It is important to test cholesterol as early detection and treatment can prevent the onset of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. It is advisable to get it checked every few years, or, if you already have a high reading, every few months.