Your cholesterol numbers show how much cholesterol is circulating in your blood. Your HDL (good cholesterol) is the one number you want to be high (ideally above 60). Your LDL (bad cholesterol) should be below 100. Your total should be below 200. Talk with your provider about what your results mean for you and how to manage your cholesterol.
Your provider checks your cholesterol levels through a blood test called a lipid panel. Your provider will draw blood from a vein in your arm and send the blood to a lab for analysis. Be sure to closely follow your provider’s instructions on how to prepare for the test. You’ll likely need to fast for 12 hours beforehand. This means avoiding all foods and drinks except water.
When your results come in, your provider will let you know. You may also be able to access your results through your electronic medical record.
Your lipid panel gives you the following numbers:
Healthcare providers measure cholesterol levels as milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. The abbreviation is mg/dL. Providers use these same units to measure your triglycerides.
High cholesterol generally means your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or higher. But providers use additional categories like borderline high and near-optimal to break down your results. If your numbers are close to normal levels, they may be easier to manage through lifestyle and dietary changes.
Your cholesterol numbers are important because they help you know your risk for heart disease. Cholesterol is a type of lipid that helps your body perform many important functions. But too much cholesterol in your blood is bad for you. It can enter your artery wall, damage its integrity and lead to the formation of atherosclerotic plaque.
You may feel upset to learn you have high cholesterol. But now that you know about it, you can take action to lower your numbers. Follow your provider’s guidance on how to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Some general tips include:
Learn how food impacts your cholesterol, and start with small changes to your diet.
Most of all, don’t blame yourself. High cholesterol is a common condition that can be hard to control through lifestyle choices alone. And many factors beyond our control limit the choices we can make.
Medications that can be used to lower cholesterol:
These medications work by decreasing hepatic triglyceride synthesis and reducing circulating free fatty acids. As a result with proper lifestyle, helps with cholesterol levels.