Let’s set the record straight. There are no symptoms for high cholesterol and so many people don’t know that they have high cholesterol. It’s sneaky that way. Being diagnosed with high cholesterol can happen to anyone at any age, and not checking your levels often or at all can put you more at risk for developing heart disease and other health conditions. Many factors like genetics and lifestyle behaviors can affect someone’s cholesterol levels. Having your cholesterol levels checked regularly helps avoid heart disease, and helps your loved ones who may be at risk.
What is cholesterol anyway?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs to build cells. You get cholesterol from two sources, your liver and the foods you eat. Your liver produces cholesterol that circulates throughout the body. Too much of it can be harmful to the body causing potential health risks. That’s why it’s important to have your cholesterol tested so you can know if your levels are unhealthy.
In a normal screening for cholesterol levels, your doctor will administer blood work to determine levels for total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and Triglycerides. Your doctor will then explain what your cholesterol levels mean, and then can discuss treatment options if your numbers are not where they should be.
What is considered “normal levels” for cholesterol?
Sometimes there can be an information “overload” when your doctor explains each level to you in medical terms. When trying to process everything all you can probably think about is “are my levels normal?” or “Why aren’t my numbers where they should be?”.
Don’t panic, we’ve broken down what’s considered normal for each level:
- Total cholesterol. Less than 200 mg/dL is considered normal.
- LDL cholesterol. Less than 100 mg/dL is considered normal.
- HDL cholesterol. It is best to have more than 40 mg/dL.
- Triglycerides. Normal levels are typically less than 150 mg/dL.
HDL and LDL are the cholesterol levels normally what everyone talks about. HDL is considered good cholesterol because it helps clear arteries of cholesterol build up. LDL is sometimes called bad cholesterol because it can build up and clog your arteries with plaque. This can eventually lead to a heart attack, stroke or heart disease. Triglycerides are not cholesterol, but it is important to look out for these levels too because they can make the artery walls thicken. If Combined with high LDL levels, triglycerides can increase the risk for heart attacks, stroke and heart disease.
How often should I have my cholesterol checked?
The American Heart Association recommends that adults aged 20 and older get checked every four to six years. They also recommend consulting with your doctor about calculating your 10 year risk of experiencing cardiovascular disease, stroke and other possible health diseases after the age of 40. If you have certain risk factors such as a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other heart conditions, then your healthcare provider may need you to have it checked more often.
How can I reduce my “bad” cholesterol?
Lowering cholesterol or managing it to an optimal level can be easily done and managed by you. You can start off by maintaining a helthy lifestyle, namely:
- Getting a blood test (regularly or as directed by your doctor)
- Consult with your doctor for solutions that are specific to you
- Staying active
- Quitting smoking
- Eating healthier
These simple steps make it easy for anyone to reduce the risk of developing a heart condition. If it goes beyond these simple changes, there are always treatment options and medications that can help you manage your levels easier.
Get your cholesterol checked at AFC Urgent Care New Britain
As your local service provider, AFC Urgent Care New Britain can help with blood work, screenings and more. Whether your cholesterol levels are good or bad it is still important to follow up with your primary care physician if further management is needed to get your levels to an optimal level. At AFC Urgent Care there’s no appointment needed. Stop by our walk-in clinic, located at 135 East Main Street, New Britain CT 06051. We accept most insurances and we’re open 7 days a week and ready to treat you.