What Does It Mean If Cholesterol Is High – LDL is “bad cholesterol” because too much of it in your blood can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. Eating foods high in saturated fat (such as full-fat dairy and red meat) can raise your LDL. A heart-healthy diet, exercise, and quitting smoking can help lower your LDL. For most people, a normal LDL level is less than 100 mg/dL.
Lipoproteins are particles made of lipids (fat) and protein that carry fat through your blood. Fats, because of their structure, cannot transport themselves through your blood. Therefore, lipoproteins act as vehicles that transport fat to various cells in your body. LDL particles contain large amounts of cholesterol and small amounts of protein.
What Does It Mean If Cholesterol Is High
Many people use “LDL” and “LDL cholesterol” interchangeably. LDL cholesterol is known as “bad cholesterol”. But that is only part of the story. LDL cholesterol itself is not bad. That is why cholesterol plays an important role in your body. However, when you have too much LDL cholesterol, you can face problems.
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Most adults should keep their LDL below 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). If you have a history of atherosclerosis, your LDL should be below 70 mg/dL.
An LDL level above 100 mg/dL increases your risk of heart disease. Health care providers use the following categories to describe your LDL cholesterol level:
Health care providers check your cholesterol levels with a simple blood test called a lipid panel. When you get your results, it’s important to talk to your provider about what your cholesterol numbers mean. These include your LDL and your HDL cholesterol. HDL is the “good cholesterol” that helps remove excess cholesterol from your blood.
In general, health care providers encourage high HDL cholesterol levels (ideally above 60) and low LDL cholesterol levels to reduce your risk of heart disease. If your LDL is too high and your HDL is too low, your provider may recommend lifestyle changes and/or medications to bring your cholesterol numbers back into a healthy range.
What Is Ldl Cholesterol?
Foods high in saturated fat are the biggest culprits in raising your LDL cholesterol. These foods include:
There’s a lot you can do to lower your LDL cholesterol. For many people, starting with lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Here are some changes you can make:
Research shows that soluble fiber lowers your LDL cholesterol. This type of fiber prevents your body from absorbing cholesterol. You should consume 10 to 25 grams (grams) per day. Talk to your healthcare provider or dietitian about the right amount for you.
The chart below lists some foods you can add to your diet to increase your soluble fiber intake.
Causes Of High Cholesterol & How To Lower It
Talking to a dietitian can help you learn new and creative ways to add to your daily diet.
Your body needs some cholesterol to function properly. However, too much LDL (“bad”) cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in your arteries and cause complications down the road. That’s why it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to keep your LDL levels in the normal range.
For many people, life changes can make a big difference. But if you make changes and your LDL is still high, you may feel depressed or anxious. Try not to blame yourself or get frustrated. Many factors that affect your LDL (such as age and heredity) are beyond your control. Talk to your provider about the changes you’re making and find out if the drug is right for you.
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit academic medical center. Advertising on our site supports our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) is an excess of lipids or fats in your blood. This increases your risk of heart attack and stroke because blood doesn’t flow easily through your arteries. Adding exercise and a healthy diet can lower your cholesterol. Some need medication. Managing your cholesterol is a long-term endeavor.
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Hyperlipidemia, also called dyslipidemia or high cholesterol, means you have too many lipids (fats) in your blood. Your liver makes cholesterol to help you digest food and make things like hormones. But you also eat dietary cholesterol from meat and dairy oils. Because your liver makes more cholesterol than you need, your diet is high in cholesterol.
High cholesterol (200 mg/dL to 239 mg/dL is the upper limit and 240 mg/dL is too high) is not healthy because it can cause roadblocks in your arteries that carry blood around your body. This can damage your muscles that don’t get enough blood from your arteries.
Bad cholesterol (LDL) is the most dangerous type because it causes hard cholesterol deposits (plaques) to build up in your arteries. This makes it harder for your blood to move through it, putting you at risk of stroke or heart attack. The plaque itself may become itchy or inflamed, which may cause a clot to form around it. It can lead to stroke or heart attack depending on the location of the blockage.
It’s important to know that providers consider factors other than your cholesterol numbers when deciding on treatment.
Total Cholesterol: 7 Mmol/l (271 Mg/dl)
These are often interchangeable terms for abnormalities in cholesterol. Your “inadequate” cholesterol (cholesterol particles that are highly inflammatory or have an abnormal balance between bad and good cholesterol levels) may not be elevated.
Both high cholesterol levels and increased inflammation at “normal” cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease. Your provider may use both terms to refer to a problem with your cholesterol level, and both mean that you need to do something to lower the level.
Hyperlipidemia is very common. 93 million American adults (ages 20 and older) have total cholesterol counts above the recommended range of 200 mg/dL.
Hyperlipidemia can be very serious if not managed. Unless high cholesterol is treated, you are allowed to build up plaque in your blood vessels. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke because your blood has difficulty moving through your veins. It robs your brain and heart of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to function.
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Untreated hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) can allow plaque to build up in your body’s blood vessels (atherosclerosis). This hyperlipidemia can lead to complications such as:
Initially, when you have high cholesterol you feel normal. It won’t give you symptoms. However, after a while, plaque buildup (made up of cholesterol and fat) can slow or block blood flow to your heart or brain. Symptoms of coronary artery disease may include chest pain, jaw pain, and shortness of breath.
When a cholesterol plaque ruptures and a clot forms on it, it blocks an entire artery. It is a heart attack with symptoms of severe chest pain, palpitations, nausea and shortness of breath. This is a medical emergency.
Most people have no symptoms when their cholesterol is high. People with genetic problems with cholesterol clearance that lead to high cholesterol levels may develop xanthomas (waxy, thick plaques on their skin) or corneal arcs (cholesterol patches around the iris of their eyes). Conditions such as obesity are associated with high cholesterol, and this prompts providers to evaluate your cholesterol levels.
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Some people can simply change their lifestyle to improve their cholesterol numbers. For other people, this is not enough and they need medication.
People who need medication to treat their high cholesterol often take statins. Statins are a type of medication that lowers the amount of bad cholesterol circulating in your blood. Your provider may order other types of medications:
Any drug can cause side effects, but the benefits of statins outweigh the risks of minor side effects. Tell your provider if you’re not doing well on your medications so they can develop a plan to manage your symptoms.
Your provider will order another blood test two or three months after you start taking medications for hyperlipidemia. Test results show whether your cholesterol levels have improved, which means medication and/or lifestyle changes are working. The risk of cholesterol damaging your body is a long-term risk, and people often take cholesterol-lowering treatments for long periods of time.
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Children can also have their blood tested for high cholesterol, especially if someone in the child’s family has had a heart attack, stroke, or high cholesterol. Children and young adults may be screened every five years.
After you reach middle age, you should have your cholesterol checked every year or two. Your health care provider can help you decide how often you should be screened for hyperlipidemia.
If you have hyperlipidemia, you should adopt a healthy lifestyle for years to come. You should keep follow-up appointments with your provider and continue taking your medication. If you and your provider are able to manage your cholesterol levels, you won’t have serious health problems as a result.
Although high cholesterol can put you at risk of heart attack and stroke, you can protect yourself by living a healthy lifestyle and taking medication when needed.
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Hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol, can be given
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