Cholesterol Levels: Understanding The Ratios
When you have a cholesterol test, there are actually four tests that are performed to determine four different levels. The low density lipoproteins (LDL), the high density lipoproteins (HDL), the triglycerides and the total blood cholesterol level. Most people don’t even get to see these values and are therefore unaware of what their cholesterol ratio is. Quite often a patient will just wait for the doctor to pronounce them healthy or not, and take whatever medication the doctor prescribes for keeping their cholesterol levels normal.
It is always good to follow doctor’s orders but that doesn’t mean that you have to be in the dark about your own health. If you really want to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, you should know what your numbers are.
We all know that having high cholesterol levels is not good for our health but how many of us are really aware of what high cholesterol can do to our body?
Today, more and more people are experiencing cholesterol-related health problems like strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications. It is therefore evident that now is a good time to start educating ourselves about the dangers of cholesterol and to begin taking steps to prevent these problems from happening.
The next time you get them checked, look at the numbers on the report. Look for the total cholesterol count and divide it by the HDL count. The resulting value is your cholesterol ratio. According to the recommendations of the American Heart Association, your cholesterol ratio should never exceed 5:1, with 3.5:1 being the ideal ratio.
Interpreting The Ratio
The average healthy person would have a total cholesterol count of about 200mg/dL and an HDL count of about 50mg/dL. Dividing the total cholesterol by the HDL, this would be equivalent to a 4:1 ratio, which is definitely in the healthy range. Let’s say your total cholesterol is 240mg/dL and your HDL is 40mg/dL. Your cholesterol ratio would then be 6:1, which is already a borderline case for high cholesterol.
The higher your cholesterol, the more likely you will be to develop coronary diseases and other cholesterol-triggered complications. The objective therefore is to reduce your ratio. You can do this by lowering your LDL count while increasing your HDL count at the same time.
Maintaining a healthy blood cholesterol ratio is very important in order to avoid suffering from heart attacks, arteriosclerosis, coronary heart problems and other cardiovascular conditions. Even if you are still in the borderline range and not yet considered at serious risk, you should already start taking steps to lower cholesterol before it rises any further.
Interpreting Your Cholesterol Reading
When you go in to have your cholesterol levels measured, the results will be given to you in numeric form. This number, which is often measured in milligrams, is your cholesterol count. There are many uncontrollable factors that can affect your cholesterol count, including your race, your age, your gender and even your lifestyle practices. Smoking and heavy drinking, for instance, can considerably increase one’s cholesterol levels.
Contrary to what many people think, not all kinds of cholesterol is bad – there is also the good cholesterol called HDL or high density lipoprotein. This type of cholesterol is actually needed by the body in order to function properly. What you want is to lower your bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) while keeping your HDL count in the healthy range.
The exact number of ideal cholesterol levels varies with each individual but there is a general acceptable range for everyone. For most people, a cholesterol count of less than 200mg is considered good. Once you exceed this without going over 239mg, you are said to be a borderline case for high cholesterol.
Now, if your cholesterol reading is 240mg or higher, you should seriously start doing something to decrease your cholesterol levels because you are already at high risk of developing heart problems and other cholesterol-related illnesses. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor, who can prescribe the right medications and also suggest dietary changes that will help you reduce your cholesterol count.
Even if you don’t have any cholesterol problems yet, it is advisable to start practicing healthy lifestyle habits. There are many ways of keeping a balanced cholesterol ratio, such as eating nutritious foods and staying away from fats and excessive carbohydrates, reducing alcohol consumption, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking. In other words, a healthy lifestyle is all you need in order to maintain low cholesterol numbers and stay healthy. Such practices will not only help you avoid high cholesterol levels but improve your overall health as well.