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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Total Cholesterol - What Does it Mean?

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Lower Cholesterol Level Presents:

Total Cholesterol - What Does it Mean?
By Matt Morrison

With all of the new information that has been given to us concerning cholesterol over the recent years, it isn't hard to get lost in the fray of HDL, LDL, triglycerides and total cholesterol counts. On average, people just don't know what it means anymore, let alone how to calculate it. Even if they figure out how to calculate it, what does any of it mean? Cholesterol is a double-edged sword, and while it is getting constant attention, it needs to be truly understood in order to harness its pros and cons.

Going to your doctor and requesting a simple lipid panel is the best way to get accurate cholesterol results. Be sure to plan your blood work ahead of time, though, as you need to refrain from eating and drinking (besides water) for twelve hours before the exam. Depending on your medical coverage, results should be in within about a week, and they should be sent to your home so that you can do the calculations on your own.

The blood test will contain three categories, HDL cholesterol (this is good cholesterol), LDL cholesterol (this is bad cholesterol), and triglycerides (another form of fat that is found in your blood). Remember, the numbers are measured in mg/dL, which is milligrams per deciliter of blood. At first glance, some things to look at concerning your numbers are as follows: HDL cholesterol should be above 40mg/dL in men, and above 50mg/dL in women. Anything lower than this represents borderline to high risk levels of cholesterol. On the LDL scale, an optimal number is below 100mg/dL, though a healthy amount can be measured all the way up to 130mg/dL. Above 130mg/dL and below 160mg/dL are borderline high risk, and anything above 160mg/dL is considered a high risk amount of LDL cholesterol. Finally are your triglyceride levels. On average, these numbers should be below 150mg/dL. So, on to the calculations.

With these three numbers in hand, the formula to find your total cholesterol is simple. First, you add your LDL and HDL levels. Then, take your triglyceride level, divide it by five, and add it to the sum of your LDL/HDL levels. (i.e. if HDL = 45, LDL = 105 and Triglycerides = 160 the formula should look like this: [45+105] + [160/5] = total cholesterol of 182mg/dL). This number is your total cholesterol level, and the desirable number here is below 200mg/dL, though borderline high risk goes up to 239mg/dL.

With all of the concern focused on having a high total cholesterol, many other factors are often overlooked. Runners tend to have a very high HDL cholesterol count and a very low LDL count as a result of the amount of exercise they do. This affects their total cholesterol, and may still put them in to the borderline zone of total cholesterol, but that doesn't mean that they are high risk. Many doctors are now looking at maintaining a healthy HDL/LDL ratio as opposed to worrying bout total cholesterol. The target here is to keep the ratio of these two cholesterols somewhere above 0.3, while the ideal ratio is 0.4.

To learn how to increase hdl and get your heart disease statistics in check, visit: http://www.decreasecholesterol.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Matt_Morrison

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