Tuesday, 9 May 2017



 Dealing with cholesterol levels
Cholesterol: What Your Level Means
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance your body uses to protect nerves, make cell tissues and produce certain hormones. Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. Your body also gets cholesterol directly from the food you eat (such as eggs, meats and dairy products). Too much cholesterol can have negative impacts on your health.
Why is a high cholesterol level unhealthy?
While some cholesterol is needed for good health, too much cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk for heart disease, including heart attack or stroke.
If you have high cholesterol, your body may store the extra cholesterol in your arteries. Your arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Buildup of cholesterol in your arteries is known as plaque. Over time, plaque can become hard and make your arteries narrow. Large deposits of plaque can completely block an artery. Cholesterol plaques can also split open, leading to formation of a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood.
If an artery that supplies blood to the muscles in your heart becomes blocked, a heart attack can occur. If an artery that supplies blood to your brain becomes blocked, a stroke can occur.
Risk factors for heart disease
Already had a heart attack
A man, 45 years of age or older
A woman, 55 years of age or older
A woman who is going through menopause or has completed menopause
Have an immediate family member (parent or sibling) who has had heart disease
Cigarette smoking
High blood pressure or diabetes
Overweight or obese
Normal artery vs. blocked artery
When should I start having my cholesterol level checked?
You can't tell if you have high cholesterol without having it checked. All adults 20 years of age and older should have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. If your cholesterol level is high or you have other risk factors for heart disease (see the box above), you may need to have it checked sooner and more often.
A blood test known as a lipid panel is usually the way cholesterol is checked.
Are there different types of cholesterol?
Yes. Cholesterol travels through the blood in different types of bundles, called lipoproteins.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) delivers cholesterol to the body. 
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) removes cholesterol from the bloodstream.
This explains why too much LDL cholesterol is bad for the body, and why a high level of HDL is good. The balance between the types of cholesterol tells you what your cholesterol level means (see the box below).
For example, if your total cholesterol level is high because of a high LDL level, you may be at higher risk of heart disease or stroke. If your total level is high only because of a high HDL level, you're probably not at higher risk.
Total cholesterol level
Less than 200 is best.
200 to 239 is borderline high.
240 or more means you're at increased risk for heart disease.
LDL cholesterol levels
Below 100 is ideal for people who have a higher risk of heart disease.
100 to 129 is near optimal.
130 to 159 is borderline high.
160 or more means you're at a higher risk for heart disease.
HDL cholesterol levels
Less than 40 means you're at higher risk for heart disease.
60 or higher greatly reduces your risk of heart disease.
What can I do to improve my cholesterol level?
If you have high cholesterol, it may be necessary for you to make some lifestyle changes. 
If you smoke, quit. 
Exercise regularly.
If you're overweight, losing just 5 to 10 pounds can help improve your cholesterol levels. 
Make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish- all of which promote heart health. 
Avoid saturated and Trans fats, which can raise cholesterol levels. 
Also limit your overall cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams per day and 200 milligrams if you have heart disease.
Do your test reports reveal a high cholesterol level? Here's how to get it under control...
Eat more beans 
You cannot rule out carbohydrates completely from your diet because they are important sources of energy for the body. However, some sources of energy are better than the others. For example, beans and whole grains have more fibre and less sugar. Hence, they play an important role in bringing down the risk of diabetes while simultaneously controlling the body's cholesterol level. White bread, potatoes, etc do just the opposite.
Get moving 
Half an hour of physical activity on a regular basis goes a long way in lowering your cholesterol levels. If you indulge in a vigorous exercise, such as jogging, experts suggest that even 20 minutes thrice a week is enough. A tip for starters is not to carry on for 30 minutes at a stretch. You may break down the exercise to three intervals of 10 minutes each. If you hate exercising, or feel that gyming is too boring, go for a walk.
Eat out wisely 
When you are eating out, it becomes all the more imperative to stay cautious. Restaurants have a habit of supersizing everything. Stay clear of fried food as much as possible. Go for boiled, baked or steamed food. Also, ask for the sauces to be served at the side and not mixed with your food. Most of these sauces are high in sodium and calories.
Don't stress 
Stress directly affects your cholesterol levels and can also lead to high blood pressure. Try and reduce your stress levels with relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga. A simple way out to reduce stress levels is to exercise deep breathing.
What about medicine to lower cholesterol?
Depending on your risk factors, if healthy eating and exercise don't work to lower your cholesterol level, your doctor may suggest medicine.
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