Cholesterol tests are quite common and your doctor might recommend them regularly depending on your health and lifestyle. This could be a part of a standard check up procedure or it might be based on the suspicion that you are developing some heart problems. But what is this cholesterol? Cholesterol is a fatty substance, soft and waxy.
The liver is responsible for all the production of cholesterol in the body. But certain food offers more cholesterol, like certain foods. If there is too much cholesterol in the body, they get deposited in the walls of the arteries. These deposits harden over time, a process which goes by the name of atherosclerosis. This can be quite dangerous for the body as the arteries become narrower making the flow of blood difficult.
The most unfortunate thing about the entire process is that no symptoms would be caused by the high levels of cholesterol. You would be suffering from angina, or severe chest pain in the later stages, which is a result of insufficient blood flow to the heart. A heart attack would follow the total blockage of an artery. Thus a lipid profile test would be necessary to keep the cholesterol levels under vigilance.
What is measured by the lipid profile test?
much like the CBC blood test which measures the several components of the blood, the lipid profile test measures the cholesterol levels in the blood. Three specific kinds are measured in addition to the total cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Low-density lipoprotein – The main cause of the plaque (cholesterol lining on the arterial walls) build-up is the ‘bad cholesterol’. Lower the number of LDL, the better. The LDL cholesterol is only a part of a large equation that measures the overall risk of having heart attacks. The recent guidelines on curbing LDL is based on the risk factor of the person. Based on the analysis, a certain percentage of LDL is recommended.
- High-density lipoprotein – This type is also known as the ‘good cholesterol’ as it helps to transport the bad cholesterol from the blood to the liver. This is where the bad cholesterol gets excreted. Generally the higher the number, the better. But the emphasis has now shifted to target strategies to reduce the overall risk.
- Triglycerides – Triglycerides is another type of fat. These can also become the reason for heart diseases. They are generally stored in the fat cells around the body.
What should the cholesterol figures look like?
Looking at the cholesterol figures is of great importance. You should not just look at the total cholesterol figures but also the individual numbers. The LDL and HDL figures are primary indicators of potential heart problems. The following figures can be used to make an idea about the cholesterol levels in the body. The total blood cholesterol levels would look much like these figures:
- Normal levels – 200 mg/dL or less
- Tending to high risks – 200 to 240 mg/dL
- High risks – 240 mg/dL and higher
The LDL cholesterol figures, if higher than 190 mg/dL, could lead to severe heart problems. If the figures are below 190 mg/dL, there are chances for high risks. It is important to maintain the levels between 30% and 50%.
HDL cholesterol – Figures less than 40mg/dL for men and less than 50mg/dL for women indicate high risks. If the figures are below 150 mg/dL, it is considered to be normal. But higher figures could mean risks and if the figures cross 500 mg/dL, it is considered to be a very high risk.
It is important to have regular lipid profile tests to ensure a healthy life, devoid of heart problems. Similarly, the health risk of an unborn baby is measured with the help of the triple marker test. The test measures the levels of some important substances in the placenta.