Cholesterol is a fat your body needs to function properly. However, too much cholesterol can lead to:
It’s important to see a cholesterol screening specialist to check on your cholesterol levels.
They can use a cholesterol test (lipid panel or lipid profile) to measure the amount of “good” and “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
How often should cholesterol be checked?
1 in 3 Americans have not had their cholesterol tested in the past 5 years. The American Heart Association recommends having your cholesterol and other risk factors checked every four to six years after the age of 20. Those with cardiovascular disease or higher risk factors may need to be assessed every year.
Who is at risk for high cholesterol?
Cholesterol testing is very important if you:
- have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease
- are overweight or obese
- drink alcohol frequently
- smoke cigarettes
- lead an inactive lifestyle
- have diabetes, kidney disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, or an under-active thyroid gland
What does a cholesterol test measure?
A complete cholesterol test measures four types of lipids, or fats, in your blood:
- Total cholesterol: This is the total amount of cholesterol in your blood.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: This is referred to as “bad” cholesterol. Too much of it raises your risk of heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: This is referred to as “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from your blood.
- Triglycerides: When you eat, your body converts the excess calories into triglycerides, which are stored in your fat cells. People who are overweight, diabetic, eat too many sweets, or drink too much alcohol can have high triglyceride levels.
What Do the Test Results Mean?
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood. Normally, cholesterol levels fall into the following ranges:
- LDL: 70–130 mg/dL
- HDL: more than 40–60 mg/dL
- Total cholesterol: <200 mg/dL
- Triglycerides: 10–150 mg/dL
If your level falls outside the normal range, you may be at a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis. Your doctor may order a blood glucose test to check for diabetes. Your doctor might also order a thyroid function test to determine if your thyroid is under-active.
Biggest Causes of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is closely linked to lifestyle habits, which means you can make a difference. Your body produces all the LDL (bad) cholesterol it needs. But an unhealthy lifestyle, such as being sedentary and eating unhealthy foods, causes the body to produce more LDL cholesterol than it needs. Avoid the following behaviors to lower your LDL levels:
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
- Excess weight
How do I check my cholesterol levels?
Visit Manhattan Cardiology in New York to see one of our cholesterol screening specialists. During our cholesterol test, a small sample of blood is taken from your arm or finger. We then analyze the sample in our diagnostics lab.
Take action and prevent the risk of heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis by having your cholesterol levels screened at our office in Manhattan.