How to Decrease My Cholesterol Level?
According to CDC Nearly 94 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL. 28 million adults have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL. 7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol.
A high cholesterol level (also called "hypercholesterolemia") can significantly increase your risk of developing heart attack, strokes, and peripheral vascular diseases (clothing in blood vessels). It is the fifth leading cause of death.
So what are the numbers I need to pay attention to?
- A total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL is normal.
- A total cholesterol level of 200 to 239 mg/dL is borderline high.
- A total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL or greater is high.
High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don’t know that their cholesterol is too high. A simple blood test can give you, your cholesterol levels.
While total cholesterol has been a primary focus in the past, current guidelines focus on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or the “bad Cholesterol”. Higher levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with higher risk of heart attack, stroke, coronary bypass surgery, and death. Studies have shown that lowering LDL cholesterol leads to lower rates of these cardiac events.
A second type of bad cholesterol, triglycerides, also has been associated with increased risk.
All Cholesterols are not bad, high-density lipoprotein (HDL)” the good Cholesterol” is associated with lower risk of heart disease as well as low risk of stroke.
When can I get my screening done?
An initial screening profile is often measured by the pediatrician during childhood and should be measured again at age 18 years. For adults cholesterol screening start at different age.
- For men at the age of 35 if no other risk factors for cardiovascular disease (Obesity, smoking, Diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, family history of heart disease at a young age). If you have risk factors then it should be at 25-30 years of age.
- For women screening starts at the age of 45. Once again if risk factors exist then screening starts at 30-35.
Keep in mind just because you look healthy and or in good shape that your cholesterol is okay. The goal is prevention so make sure to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you have not seen them lately. Let’s not add ourselves to the list of number 5 killers.
What can I do to reduce my risk?
First thing first, you have to see your healthcare provider check your cholesterol level along with other pertinent blood work. The next steps depend on the levels. Here is a quick to-do list.
- If your healthy and total cholesterol number is slightly higher than normal, “total cholesterol of >200” you don’t have to be on any cholesterol-lowering medications. You have to modify your diet start exercising and seek help if you are not sure what a healthy diet is. Make some changes in your day-to-day habits, including reducing the amount of total and saturated fat in your diet, losing weight (if you are overweight or obese), getting regular aerobic exercise, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, in general, staying away from the process, refined food, increase your fruits and vegetable portions. Keep logs and repeat your cholesterol level in a couple of months if it is still high despite your efforts then it is important to start medication.
- If you have Diabetes, Heart disease, High blood pressure, or stroke then the best option for you is to start cholesterol-lowering medication. Keep in mind above numbers are much different for you than for a healthy person.
- If your cholesterol levels are significantly higher than 200 (Above 240) then it will be best to start a good diet along with cholesterol-lowering drugs.
- If you are a smoker please stop.
- If you enjoy your alcohol, reduce the number.