A cholesterol level test is recommended by nearly every physician to their patients, especially those with a variety of risk factors, to better evaluate their overall health.
Unhealthy levels of cholesterol are responsible for several dangerous and potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease, including heart attacks and the build-up of plaque within the arteries.
Although once a specialized test, checking your cholesterol levels is now usually a regular part of a routine physical as a preventive measure.
The majority of experts agree that every adult over the age of 20 should have a cholesterol test done every five years or so to ensure both their “bad” (LDL), and “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels are within the normal range, as well as testing the level of triglycerides in the bloodstream.
If you are already taking medication to reduce your cholesterol, or you may need to take another type of medication that affects these levels either by raising or lowering them, may need to have a cholesterol level checkup several times during one year alone.
How to Interpret the Results of Your Cholesterol Level Test
Although doctors do agree about the age one should begin having their cholesterol tested, they haven’t been able to concur as to how much cholesterol is optimal for keeping the risk of heart disease at a minimum.
200 mg/dl of cholesterol is the level that most feel is acceptable for the best health, and levels that are between 200 and 240 mg/dl are considered to be a moderate risk.
For cholesterol level test results that are over 240 mg/dl, you may be considered to be at a high risk of acquiring some form of heart disease. A more in depth test known as a blood lipid profile may be necessary for determining if the good cholesterol is too low, or if the bad or LDL cholesterol is too high.
After examining the detailed results, your physician will prescribe an appropriate course of treatment if one is necessary.
Certain health conditions may have an effect the accuracy of a blood test.
Pregnant women may have increased cholesterol, and levels may also be affected from a recent illness, or even from instances of severe stress, or while recovering from surgery.
For these reasons, the best time to test your level of cholesterol for the most accurate reading is when you are considered to be at their healthiest.
Common Causes of Unhealthy Cholesterol Levels
Scientists and physicians have several theories as to the prime causes of unhealthy levels of cholesterol, one of which is genetics.
Regardless of the type of foods you eat, if hereditary plays a significant role in your level of cholesterol, you may have to take prescribed medications, including drugs known as statins, to reduce those levels.
Diets that are high in animal fats, such as saturated fats, are also known to contribute to high cholesterol, and eliminating these from your diet may help to lower your HDL levels, unless of course, an inherited disease is causing the increase. Ask your own doctor for their recommendation as to how often you should have a test done.
The Convenience of Home Testing Cholesterol Kits
Home testing cholesterol kits have the ability to determine one’s general levels of blood cholesterol right from the comforts of their home. If your test results are high, you’ll then know to make an appointment with your physician for a more involved laboratory test that will give specific results such as both your good (HDL), and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.
If tests do indicate that your bad cholesterol is too high or your good cholesterol is too low, your physician will more than likely begin to advise you on some lifestyle changes that you must make in order to bring both types to a healthier level.
Simple changes may be enough if your cholesterol is near the normal limits, although extremely high levels will warrant the use of medication in addition to those lifestyle changes that will include eating healthier foods.
Changing the foods you eat, such as switching to leaner cuts of meat instead of fatty red meats, or eating chicken without the skin instead of pork are some of the changes that can easily be made to lower cholesterol before levels are too high and medication is the only alternative.
Another option is to bake or broil foods, as opposed to frying, or try steaming, roasting, or even grilling foods to retain their nutrients, but not add unnecessary fats.
Also, getting enough exercise, such as walking, running, swimming, or other similar activities will help to keep cholesterol at a healthy level, and keep you in better physical condition as well.
Always begin any new exercise program slowly, working your way up to more physically challenging activities as you build endurance, and again, your doctor will be able to advise you about how to safely exercise.
In addition to physical activity, prescription drugs such as statins have been proven effective for lowering cholesterol, although medication should be viewed as a last resort as opposed to natural methods such as diet and exercise.