Basic Facts About Cholesterol
◦  Children Can Be Affected By High Cholesterol
◦  Cholesterol and Your Child
◦  Cholesterol Level Facts
◦  The Top Dangers Associated With High Cholesterol
◦  What to do About Cholesterol Numbers
◦  Older Americans and Cholesterol
◦  Preventing High Cholesterol Levels
◦  Understanding Your Cholesterol Test
◦  At-home Cholesterol Tests
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  • Maintaining a healthy diet and proper daily exercise: Your body produces approximately 1000 milligrams of cholesterol a day, which is one way you receive cholesterol in your body. The second way cholesterol enters your body is by the foods that you eat that contain cholesterol. Foods from animals contain cholesterol such as egg yolks, meat poultry, whole and reduced fat milk and dairy products as well as shellfish. Plant foods do not contain cholesterol. Foods such as nuts, grains, vegetables, seeds and fruits are plant foods.
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  • School-aged children can not only be taught good food choices, but they can have their cholesterol levels checked by having a simple blood test. It is especially important to have this cholesterol-screening test performed if the child had a family history of high cholesterol. The levels that indicate borderline high levels of cholesterol in children are those levels that are between 170 and 199 mg/dL. The levels are considered high in children if they are higher than 200mg/dL.
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  • The LDL is labeled as the "bad cholesterol" because they are the primary cholesterol carriers. When there is too much LDL in your bloodstream they build up on the walls of your arteries and that that is what leads to plaque (a thick, hard substance) leading to your heart and brain that can be responsible for heart attacks and strokes. Blocked arteries can also lead to problems with the flow of blood to other vital organs such as the kidneys and the intestines both of which are necessary for good health. We want low levels of the LDL, "bad cholesterol". The HDL are labeled as the "good cholesterol" because they do all the hard work of carrying away the cholesterol from the arteries and back to the liver where it then exits the body without causing any harm. We want high levels of this HDL, "good cholesterol".
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  • What are your LDL cholesterol levels? These are your "bad" cholesterol level and you want it to be low. Below 100 is ideal for those who have a higher number of risk factors for heart disease. If your level is 100 to 129 than this is ideal for the average individual. If your level is 130 to 159 than this indicates a borderline high level and if your number is 160 or more than this means that you have a higher than normal risk for heart disease. What are your HDL cholesterol levels? These are your "good" cholesterol level and you want it to be high. If your HDL cholesterol level is less than 40 than it means that you are at high risk for heart disease. If you have a level that is 60 or higher this is good, as it will reduce your risk for heart disease.
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  • The risk factors for high cholesterol that you can have some control over are: your diet, your weight, and your physical activity level. Our diets are made up of many things (everything we eat contain substances). The food items we select to eat each day contain substances that are either good nutritionally for us or add no significant value to our nutritional needs. Some foods we select can even harm us such as those that raise our total LDL cholesterol levels such as foods containing saturated fats. If you are overweight for your age and body size it can cause your LDL cholesterol level (the bad one) to go up and your HDL level (the good one) to go down. To be heart healthy it is good for the HDL level to be high and the LDL level to be low. When these levels are the opposite of what is healthy for us that can increase our risk for heart disease.
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  • Taking steps to make lifestyle changes that will lower your cholesterol level such as quitting smoking and exercising daily along with making healthy dietary choices are important ways to lower your cholesterol along with the medication that is prescribed by your doctor. Taking your medication as prescribed is also a part of the plan. So is telling your doctor about any side effects you experience so that your doctor can make adjustments. Your cholesterol prevention and treatment plan should be monitored and adjusted whenever necessary as your life changes or as your cholesterol level changes.
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  • Another determining factor regarding age and cholesterol risk as revealed by studies is that of how extensive the study is regarding variables other than age such as prebaseline cardiovascular events and whether or not follow-up was done and how many years after the testing. American family Physician, September 1, 2005 issue reported how the Cardiovascular Health Study was conducted by Psaty and associates. This was a multicenter, prospective cohort study done in two phases. In the study, it was reported that, "Fasting lipid levels, including high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides, collected at baseline, as were other physical and laboratory findings. Participants also underwent carotid sonography. Patients were excluded if they had prebaseline myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, or congestive heart failure."
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  • Ask your doctor about medications that can increase or decrease cholesterol levels. This way if you are ever placed on these medications in the future you can advise the doctor who is prescribing the medication that you are concerned about the affect it may have on your cholesterol levels. Not all doctors know about all the medications that other doctors may have you on, so advising all your medical care professionals about the medications you are taking is a smart move when it comes to medication interactions as well as the affect some medications can have on other health issues than what individual doctors are treating you for. If you should ever be placed on a medication that is known to have an affect on cholesterol levels make sure that a doctor will be monitoring your lipid levels while you are taking the medication.
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  • If you have 1 of the above risk factors for heart disease or none, your LDL cholesterol should be below 160 mg/dL. If your HDL cholesterol levels are more than or equal to 60 mg/dL than this will take away one risk factor and decrease your risk of heart disease. If however, your HDL cholesterol is 40 mg/dL or lower than you add 1 risk factor for heart disease. Even if you have low LDL and high HDL cholesterol, you may still be at risk for heart disease if your triglyceride levels are high. Normal triglyceride levels are less than 150 mg/dL. To be tested for triglyceride levels you must complete a 9 - 12 hours fast. Not completing the 9 - 12 hour fast correctly could inadequately higher your triglyceride level result.
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  • Testing your cholesterol levels and knowing what they are is not enough to save your life. You have to know how to interpret the levels and to know what lifestyle changes are necessary in order to keep those levels in a healthy range. Your doctor can interpret the levels for you and give you lifestyle guidance for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Your doctor can also prescribe medications if your levels are not within a healthy range for you. If medication is necessary, you doctor can also re-test your cholesterol levels during your medication therapy to be sure that the medicine is lowering your bad cholesterol to an acceptable level. Your doctor can also make adjustments in your medicine therapy when necessary.
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