Although the body needs cholesterol to function, keeping it within a healthy range is important. People with high cholesterol may manage it with lifestyle changes or medication.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) transports cholesterol back to the liver for the body to excrete it. Some people refer to HDL as “good” cholesterol.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, can build up in the arteries as plaques. Plaque made from LDL cholesterol can cause narrowing in the arteries and lead to cardiovascular disease.
Doctors measure total HDL and LDL cholesterol levels to assess a person’s risk of heart disease. They also look at levels of triglycerides which are fats in the blood.
This article discusses cholesterol numbers and what they mean. It also provides tips for lowering cholesterol and explores how doctors treat high cholesterol.
A person may not know their cholesterol levels are high because they
People should check their cholesterol levels regularly, as high cholesterol levels increase a person’s risk of stroke and heart disease.
Healthcare professionals advise that desirable lipid profile levels are as follows:
- Total cholesterol: Between 125-200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- LDL cholesterol: Less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol: Greater than 40 mg/dL for males and 50 mg/dL for females
- Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL
If a person has a total cholesterol level
Between 2015 and 2018, nearly
If someone has triglycerides
Triglyceride levels over 500 mg/dL indicate moderate hypertriglyceridemia and levels over 886 mg/dL indicate severe hypertriglyceridemia.
A doctor takes account of all the numbers in a person’s cholesterol profile to get an overall picture of their risk for heart disease and stroke. They also consider a person’s overall health, family history, and other factors, such as weight, exercise, and smoking, when assessing heart disease risk.
A person should work with a healthcare professional to decide the best way to lower their cholesterol. A doctor
However, some people may have a genetic condition such as FH.
However, the CDC estimates that just over
Medications and supplements
Statins available in the United States include:
- rosuvastatin calcium
Other cholesterol medications that a doctor may prescribe include:
- ezetimibe which is a cholesterol-absorption inhibitor
- bile acid sequestrants such as cholestyramine, colestipol, or colesevelam
- PCSK9 inhibitors such as alirocumab and evolocumab
- fibrates such as gemfibrozil, fenofibrate, or clofibrate
Additionally, some supplements may help to lower cholesterol, including niacin and omega-3 fatty acids. However, supplements
A healthcare professional may prescribe omega-3 fatty acids to manage hypertriglyceridemia. A person should speak with their doctor before taking any supplements.
People may lower their cholesterol by making dietary changes. The CDC
The CDC also advises that a person eats foods high in fiber and unsaturated fats, such as:
In addition, people can make the following lifestyle changes to decrease their risk of stroke and heart disease:
- maintain a healthy weight
- do regular physical activity
- quit smoking
- limit alcohol
Someone with high cholesterol may manage their condition through a combination of diet and lifestyle changes, and medication. They should speak with a doctor to decide which approach is best for their circumstances.
Because high cholesterol often presents no symptoms, people should regularly check their cholesterol levels. The CDC advises people to check at least once every
For people with FH, early diagnosis and treatment of the condition can reduce the risk of heart disease by about
High total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels indicate that someone may be at risk of heart disease.
Doctors take all the numbers that make up a person’s cholesterol profile into account, as well as other factors such as genetic conditions, weight, and general health.
People may reduce their risk of heart disease by eating a balanced diet that limits saturated fats and includes foods that are high in fiber and unsaturated fats. In addition, people can check their cholesterol levels regularly, maintain a moderate weight and engage in frequent exercise.
A person should speak with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for them.