What is High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat or lipid in your blood created naturally by the liver that is used for a wide variety of functions in the body. Cholesterol comes in two forms, the first being high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which helps protect you against coronary heart disease and helps to reduce the LDL in your blood, this type is referred to as the “good” cholesterol. The other form is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or commonly known as the “bad” cholesterol, it is this form that can cause buildups around artery walls (known as plaque) often resulting in blockages. If you are classified as suffering from High Cholesterol then it means that you have very high LDL levels while having lower HDL levels. Having a higher cholesterol level causes lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) in your blood to slowly build up around the artery walls causing blood flow to become slowed or even blocked. It is these blood clots that cause various serious medical problems such as strokes or heart attacks, both of which happen when the brain or heart gets a lack of blood supply.
A measure of cholesterol is taken during a cholesterol screening that measures both your HDL, LDL and triglycerides levels. The test is done by taking a small blood sample often drawn from the arm before being sent off for analyzing in a laboratory. Cholesterol levels are returned in either mg/dL (a measurement of milligrams per decilitre) , or in mmol/L (a measurement of millimole per litre) with accepted levels ranging depending on various factors such as age, family history, medical history or even smoking status. It should be up to your doctor or GP to interpret your results but generally accepted levels of adults are as shown below.
Cholesterol Ranges for Adults:
Total Cholesterol Levels:
- Less than 200 mg/dL – Healthy Cholesterol
- Between 200 mg/dL and 240mg/dL – Borderline High Cholesterol
- Over 240 mg/dL – High Cholesterol
LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Levels:
- Less than 100 mg/dL – Healthy LDL
- Between 100 mg/dL and 130 mg/dL – Near Healthy LDL
- Between 130 mg/dL and 160 mg/dL – Borderline High LDL
- Between 160 mg/dL and 190 mg/dL – High LDL
- Over 190 mg/dL – Very high LDL
HDL (Good) Cholesterol Levels:
- Less than 40 mg/dL – Low HDL
- Between 40 mg/dL and 45 mg/dL – Borderline Low HDL
- Over 45 mg/dL – Healthy HDL
- 150 mg/dL or lower – Healthy Triglycerides
- Between 150 mg/dL and 200 mg/dL – Borderline High Triglycerides
- Between 200 mg/dL and 500 mg/dL – High Triglycerides
- Over 500 mg/dL – Very High Triglycerides
Managing High Cholesterol
If you find that your cholesterol falls within the at-risk categories there may need to be some immediate changes put in place in order to minimize your risk of potentially life-threatening side effects such as a stroke or heart attack. This can be managed by transitioning to a healthier lifestyle including regular exercise and healthy dieting. It is recommended that you exercises a minimum of 30 minutes a total of 5 times a week, this can be split up throughout the day as it doesn’t have to be completed all in one sitting. Eating and following a healthy diet is key to lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure levels and keeping you out of the danger zones. This is done by restricting the intake of various harmful types of nutrients such as trans fats or large quantities of saturated fats while emphasizing on fruits, vegetables, grains, fish and nuts.
If attempts to lower cholesterol via lifestyle changes has proven to be ineffective you may need to consult your local doctor or GP in order to organise alternative treatments such as medication. There is a wide range of medications available each with a unique way of combating high cholesterol as well as a varying range of effect, because of this your doctor will prescribe you with the best available option for you. It is important to note that even with medication you shouldn’t abandon your transition to a healthy lifestyle, exercise and healthy dieting should be in conjunction with medication.
Converting Cholesterol Measurements
In order to convert LDL and HDL from mg/dL to mmol/L we have to divide by 38.67. When going from mmol/L to mg/dL we must multiply by 38.67. In order to convert triglyceride levels, a value of 88.57 must be used instead. When converting from mg/dL to mmol/L we divide by 88.57, while going from mmol/L to mg/dL we multiply by 88.57. If you have any issues in calculating values feel free to use our conversion tool below.
Cholesterol Unit Conversion