We know high cholesterol is bad for you, but what is total cholesterol? Learn about what this means for your heart health.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults 20 years and older check their cholesterol levels every four to six years. If there are health or hereditary factors that put you at high risk, your doctor may check it more often.
Furthermore, if you have risk factors, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, your risk of heart attack or stroke increases. Taking the necessary steps to lower high cholesterol is great, and the best way to start is to learn what cholesterol is and what the levels mean.
In order to find out your cholesterol levels, you need a blood test called a lipid profile. This test checks your LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it can accumulate on your artery walls and increase your risk of heart disease. A low LDL level is considered good for your heart.
Foods high in saturated and trans fat can raise LDL levels.
HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol because it takes LDL cholesterol out of the blood and keeps it from building up in your arteries. A high HDL level lowers your risk of heart disease.
You can increase HDL levels with exercise. Avoid smoking, being sedentary, and becoming overweight to maintain high levels.
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat found in your body. Although it’s not a type of cholesterol, it’s measured because high triglyceride levels increase the buildup of fatty plaques on artery walls, known as atherosclerosis. High levels increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Total cholesterol is the total amount of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and your other lipid components. It’s calculated by adding the HDL and LDL levels, as well as 20% of your triglyceride level.
In addition, once you get test results back, your total cholesterol ranges will determine if you’re healthy or not. The total cholesterol levels range as follows:
- Desirable level: Less than 200 mg/dL
- Borderline high level: 200 to 239 mg/dL
- High level: More than 240 mg/dL
If your total cholesterol is high, it increases your risk for heart disease. Doctors will look at this number to recommend any medications and/or lifestyle changes to improve cholesterol levels.
If you suffer from high cholesterol, listen to your doctor, especially if he recommends taking medication to manage it. Moreover, lifestyle changes can also help immensely to improve your health and quality of life.
Reducing saturated and trans fats, staying active, and cutting back on smoking will help tremendously. Adding supplements that support healthy blood vessels can also be a big help.
L-arginine Plus works to improve blood flow, stamina, and cholesterol levels by adding nitric oxide to open up your blood vessels. Try adding it to your routine along with other healthy habits to boost your cholesterol health.