Cholesterol is a necessary part of the human body. There are “good” and “bad” types of cholesterol. Distinguishing between the two will help you make healthy lifestyle choices. Your body produces some cholesterol while the rest comes from foods that you eat. Your body needs the right balance to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A cholesterol score can be confusing. There are two levels that are measured. HDL is the good type of cholesterol that keeps the bad from sticking to the walls of your arteries. The right level of HDL can prevent heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. The ideal HDL reading would be between 40 and 60 mg/dL for men and between 50 and 60 mg/dL for women. The closer your HDL level is to 60, the better.
LDL is the bad cholesterol in your body. You want your LDL to be at 100 mg/dL or lower for best health. A score of 100–129 is near optimal; 130–159 is getting too high; 160–189 is too high; above 190 leaves you at severe risk for cardiovascular disease.
So when you visit your doctor, you want to hear that your total cholesterol reading is less than 200, with HDL around 60 mg/dL and LDL near 100 mg/dL. Your triglycerides level should be 150 mg/dL or lower. Knowing your numbers can help you track your progress.
Preventing bad cholesterol requires a few smart lifestyle choices. Get your weekly exercise. Try for 30 or more minutes of moderate cardio at least 3 times a week. Use the stairs when possible to get in a little extra workout. Eat a heart-healthy diet to reduce intake of bad cholesterol.
If you need treatment for high cholesterol levels, make a plan with your doctor. There are many medications available that can help you manage your cholesterol if taken as directed. These medications can lower the cholesterol made by your blood, but it is up to you to manage the cholesterol you take in through your diet.
Manage your cholesterol by monitoring your own numbers, eating right, exercising, and not smoking. If you need treatment, visit The Heart Institute at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point or call Consult-A-Nurse® to speak to a nurse or find a doctor.