A simple blood test is all it takes to find out if you have a normal cholesterol reading or if you need to make some changes to get it under control. But just what is a normal reading and how do you know if your numbers are to high? There are two schools of thought when it comes to this; one based on the total blood cholesterol levels and the other on the ratio of good to bad cholesterol.
The good, or HDL (high density lipoproteins), is primarily responsible for removing the bad, or LDL (low density lipoproteins) from the blood stream and returning it to the liver where it is removed from the body as waste. High levels of LDL in the blood stream leads to plaque build up in the arteries. Plaque deposits can clog arteries which is a symptom of coronary artery disease. A total blockage can cause a heart attack. If a plaque deposit breaks free as a blood clot it can cause a stroke.
Total cholesterol readings are obtained by combining the total amount of both high density and low density lipoproteins. From this total your doctor can make an informed decision as to whether or not you need to take measures to bring this number down. Another number that your doctor will look at is total LDL cholesterol. This number is important because LDL’s cause the damage that can lead to heart disease.
The breakdown range of total and LDL cholesterol numbers is as follows.
1. Normal Cholesterol Readings – A total level less than 200 mg/dl or LDL level less than 130 mg/dl is considered normal. People in this range have little risk of heart disease or stroke from cholesterol problems.
2. Borderline-High – A total level between 200-239 mg/dl or LDL level between 130-159 mg/dl is considered borderline-high. People who test in this range are recommended to make some lifestyle changes based around a healthy diet and exercise plan to reduce their levels to normal. People in this range usually do not need to be prescribed medications as simple lifestyle changes can usually bring about the desired results.
3. High Cholesterol Reading – Any test returning a total level above 240 mg/dl or LDL level above 160 mg/dl is considered high. People who test at this level must make some serious dietary changes along with starting an exercise program. They will also probably be given a prescription for a cholesterol lowering medication by their doctor.
For those who use the idea that the ratio between good and bad cholesterol is a good way to determine if levels are to high it works like this. Take the total cholesterol reading and divide it by the HDL level. This will give a ratio that if it’s more than 4 then it is time to take steps to lower the overall and LDL cholesterol levels.
If you feel you may not have a normal cholesterol reading then make an appointment with your doctor. A simple blood test is all it takes to determine if it is something you need to be worried about.