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Cholesterol Levels: What You Need to Know

Dr Rishika Agarwal 2940 Views
Updated: 17 Jan 2024
Published: 23 Aug 2022
Cholesterol Levels

Human body cells contain fat-like substances known as cholesterol. There are mainly two sources of cholesterol in our human body. The first source is our liver, which produces cholesterol. The second source of cholesterol is food items derived from animals. For example, meat and dairy products contain a significant amount of cholesterol. Cholesterol is required to develop healthy cells in our body. However, high cholesterol levels in our bodies will have a negative impact. For the same reason, doctors advise individuals to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels

When cholesterol increases, arteries in our body that supply blood to the heart become narrow. In some cases, the arteries become stiff, and blood supply is hampered. Since the heart cannot get the blood or the oxygen present in the blood, there are chances of a heart attack. This condition is known as coronary artery disease and is the leading disease in many countries. For the same reason, maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels is of utmost importance. Read on to know more about normal blood cholesterol levels in the human body. 

Understanding the types of cholesterol in the human body

While measuring the cholesterol levels in the body, different terms are used. Before understanding the normal blood cholesterol level in the body, one should be familiar with different types of cholesterol. Different types of cholesterol in the human body are as follows: 

  • LDL cholesterol: Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the main reason for blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. For the same reason, it is also referred to as bad cholesterol. Normal blood cholesterol level is disturbed due to a high amount of LDL. 
  • HDL cholesterol: High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol helps remove LDL from the arteries. For the same reason, it is also referred to as good cholesterol. 

Doctors carry out a lipoprotein panel test, a blood test to determine cholesterol levels. One can know how far they are from the cholesterol normal value via the lipoprotein panel. Before the test, doctors ask patients not to eat anything from 9 to 12 hours. The test information contains the total cholesterol normal range, which is the sum of HDL and LDL in the body. The test also gives information about non-HDL, which is the cholesterol besides HDL. It can include LDL and Very-low-density Lipoprotein (VLDL). The lipoprotein panel test also talks about triglycerides, a fat that opens doors to heart diseases. Higher amounts of triglycerides are often discovered in women. Note that triglycerides are not a type of cholesterol. 

Understanding the cholesterol numbers mentioned in the lipoprotein panel 

As discussed above, the lipoprotein panel will showcase the amount of HDL, LDL, non-HDL, and total cholesterol in the body. There is a cholesterol normal value for men, women, and children. Cholesterol normal values for people of different age groups are as follows:  

  • For young people below 19 years of age, the normal total cholesterol value should be less than 170 mg/dL. In addition, non-HDL and LDL should be less than 120 mg/dL and 100 mg/dL, respectively. Simultaneously, the HDL should be more than 45 mg/dL. High cholesterol levels in young people can lead to several heart diseases.
  • For men aged 20 or higher, the total cholesterol level normal range is between 125 to 200 mg/dL. Non-HDL and LDL should be less than 130 mg/dL and 100 mg/dL, respectively. Simultaneously, the HDL should be more than 40 mg/dL. High cholesterol levels in men can even lead to a heart attack. 
  • The total cholesterol level normal range for women aged 20 or more is between 125 to 200 mg/dL. Non-HDL and LDL should be less than 130 mg/dL and 100 mg/dL, respectively. Simultaneously, the HDL should be more than 50 mg/dL. High cholesterol levels in women can give rise to several heart disorders. 

Even though triglycerides aren’t cholesterol, they are mentioned in the lipoprotein panel report. For a normal person, the triglycerides level should be less than 150 mg/dL. However, people with high cholesterol levels often also have high triglycerides (higher than 160 mg/dL). 

How often should one take a cholesterol test?

A lipoprotein panel is taken several times to determine high cholesterol levels if existing. General recommendations for taking a cholesterol test for different age groups are as follows:  

  • Young people (below 19) should start taking cholesterol tests at nine. Since then, a cholesterol test should be taken every five years to determine high cholesterol levels, if any.  
  • Some children may experience heart attacks or strokes at a very young age. They might have a family history of high cholesterol levels. For such children, cholesterol tests can start from two years of age. 
  • Men and women aged between 45 and 66 should take a cholesterol test every year. 
  • Other adults can take a cholesterol test every five years to determine any abnormality. 

Common causes of disturbance in the cholesterol levels 

High cholesterol levels can occur due to numerous factors. Some common causes of cholesterol in men/women are as follows: 

  • Eating food items that contain saturated fat and a high amount of cholesterol can disturb the normal cholesterol levels in the body. Meat, baked goods, processed food, and chocolate are some food items that contain a high amount of saturated fat. Therefore, these food items should be consumed within a limit to avoid high cholesterol levels
  • Obesity is another cause of high cholesterol levels in the human body. By losing excess weight, people can lower their LDL and triglyceride levels. Losing excess weight can also help boost the amount of HDL in the body. 
  • Physically inactive people are vulnerable to heart disorders. Routine physical activity and exercise can help reduce LDL and boost HDL in the body. One should exercise daily for at least 30 minutes to reduce the chances of high cholesterol levels
  • Smoking is one of the prime reasons for high cholesterol levels. HDL count is significantly reduced in the human body due to excessive smoking. 

Contact your doctor right away if you have high cholesterol levels! Click here for the total cholesterol test.

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