Cholesterol is a waxy substance, it’s an important element that our body needs to build cells. So it’s not a “bad” guy. The things is a normal body needs everything in a normal range, not too high, not too low. The cholesterol problem that concerns a lot of people in our nation today is too much cholesterol in the blood.
Cholesterol in our body comes from two sources. The liver makes cholesterol for body’s needs. And we also get cholesterol from foods like meat, egg, full-fat dairy products, oils. Such foods contain saturated fat and trans fat, both are the real “bad” guy because they cause the liver to make more cholesterol.
Some high cholesterol diseases are related to genes.
As mentioned, cholesterol is a waxy substance in the blood. When the blood flows through the arteries, the excess of cholesterol leaves on the wall of arteries, starts to build up, and it gets thicker and thicker, makes the arteries narrower and narrower, and lack of flexibility. This causes a disease called Atherosclerosis. Then one day, a blood clot forms and it blocks the narrowed artery, results in a heart attack.
High cholesterol usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. There’s a connection between obsesity and high cholesterol, but people at normal weight can develop high cholesterol.
It’s a simple process to run a blood test and know if the cholesterol is within normal range.
The blood test will show four items related to cholesterol:
- total cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol
- LDL cholesterol
Not every one of them are “bad”.
The HDL cholesterol is the Good cholesterol, the high HDL cholesterol is, the less the risk of heart disease there is.
The LDL cholesterol is the Bad cholesterol, it’s linked to heart attack, stroke, thrombus, etc.
Total cholesterol (TC) normal range is 110～220mg/dl, the higher the riskier.
HDL cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, is the good cholesterol. The higher HDL cholesterol is, the less risk level you’re at concerning a heart disease.
The ideal range of HDL cholesterol is >1.04mmol/L or >40mg/dL, If the HDL cholesterol level is lower than 0.91mmol/L or 35mg/dL, it’s considered below normal range.
LDL cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, is the bad cholesterol. LDL cholesterol accumulates and builds up on your artery walls, makes the arteries narrower for the blood to go through. This is the major cause of Myocardial ischemia and blood clot. Higher LDL cholesterol level generally means higher risk of heart attack. Medication is necessary for such cases.
LDL cholesterol normal level is < 190 mg/dl.
Statin is the mainstream medicine for high LDL cholesterol level treatment.
Triglycerides are the fats carried in the blood. They are from the food that we eat. A high triglyceride level is connected to a higher risk of coronary artery disease.
Normal level <150
Mildly high 150-199
Very high >=500
Medicines for treating high cholesterol include:
- Altocor （lovastatin）
- Advicor® (niacin extended-release/lovastatin)
- Altoprev® (lovastatin extended-release)
- Baycol （cerivastatin）
- Caduet® (amlodipine and atorvastatin)
- Crestor® (rosuvastatin)
- Flolipid(Pro) (simvastatin)
- Juvisync® (sitagliptin/simvastatin)
- Lescol® (fluvastatin)
- Lescol XL (fluvastatin extended-release)
- Lipitor® (atorvastatin)
- Liptruzet™ (ezetimibe/atorvastatin)
- Livalo® (pitavastatin)
- Mevacor® (lovastatin)
- Nikita ( pitavastatin)
- Pravachol® (pravastatin)
- Praluent (shot)
- Simcor® (niacin extended-release/simvastatin)
- Vytorin® (ezetimibe/simvastatin)
- Zocor® (simvastatin)
- Zypitamag(Pro) (pitavastatin)
According to US Heart Association, everyone aged 20+ should take cholesterol screening every 4 to 6 years. Because high cholesterol usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. It’s a simple process to run a blood test and know if the cholesterol is within normal range.
To learn more about cholesterol, please check this page.