cholestrol readings are the results that a doctor obtains from performing a cholestrol test on a patient. The cholestrol test is a blood test which examines the lipids, or fats, in the blood. The patient is asked to fast for 12 hours before the test is taken and then blood is drawn either by a needle and syringe or by a finger prick test.
The 3 cholestrol Readings
The three cholestrol readings which are examined are readings for Total cholestrol (TC), HDL (High density lipoprotein) or good cholestrol, and LDL (low density lipoprotein) or bad cholestrol.
Total cholestrol is the total HDL and LDL cholestrol in the blood. A cholestrol reading of between 190-210 mg/dl or between 4.9 and 5.4 mmol/l is a normal and healthy cholestrol level. If your total cholestrol is above this then you have high cholestrol and are at a greater risk of heart disease.
HDL or good cholestrol
HDL cholestrol is mainly protein with a small amount of fat. HDL cholestrol helps to prevent cholestrol building up in the arteries (which causes narrowing of the arteries) by transporting it to the liver where it is dealt with and excreted. It is therefore good to have a high level of HDL cholestrol.
LDL or bad cholestrol
LDL cholestrol is mainly fat with a little protein. This is the cholestrol which, if it is in excess, is deposited on the walls of the arteries. These deposits or plaque on the artery walls lead to atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries reducing blood flow to vital organs such as the heart. Atherosclerosis is a cause of cardiovascular disease. It is good to have a low level of LDL cholestrol in the blood.
When you are given the results of your cholestrol readings your doctor will give you your Total cholestrol reading and then a ratio of Total cholestrol to HDL cholestrol. You want your Total cholestrol level, which includes bad LDL cholestrol to be low compared to your good or HDL cholestrol. A ratio of above 8:1 puts you at a high risk of developing heart disease, a ratio of above 5:1 is a medium risk and a ratio of 3.5:1 or below is seen as healthy.
Why is it important to get cholestrol readings?
It is important to get cholestrol readings done either by a doctor or by using a home kit because high cholestrol, on the whole, does not have any obvious symptoms. You will not know your true risk of heart disease until you have your cholestrol level checked. It is especially important to have your cholestrol checked if:-
– you have a family history of heart disease
– you have heart disease
– you suffer from diabetes
– you smoke
– you have high blood pressure
– you have a family history of high cholestrol
Once you know your cholestrol readings you can do something about them. If your cholestrol levels are healthy then carry on with your healthy lifestyle. If your levels are too high then you need to make some lifestyle changes to lower bad cholestrol and increase good cholestrol. You may even have to take medication, discuss this with your doctor.