Cholesterol often gets a bad rap. After all, you’re constantly warned to stay away from foods high in cholesterol and encouraged to keep cholesterol levels down. But, in reality, a healthy level of cholesterol is important for maintaining a life of whole health.
Cholesterol helps build new cells, protect nerves and produce hormones. The trouble comes when we eat too much cholesterol. Our livers generally make enough of the cholesterol that our bodies need. When we consume too much, it can deposit in unhealthy places, including arteries.
When cholesterol builds up in your arteries over time, it can restrict blood and oxygen flow to and from your heart. In the most serious case, reduced blood flow and oxygen to the heart can result in chest pain, and when blood flow gets completely cut off, a heart attack might result.
Here are some ways that monitoring our cholesterol can help you to be on top of your whole health, so you can adopt healthier lifestyle choices that will help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease in the future.
Monitoring Your Heart Disease Risk
A regular blood test that measures cholesterol level in the body can help your doctor monitor your risk of heart disease. Blood tests measure two different types of cholesterol:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL): This “good” cholesterol can help carry LDL out of the arteries and may even lower your risk of heart disease.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): Known as the “bad” cholesterol, this type of cholesterol can build up in your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack.
Understanding Your Cholesterol Levels
Your doctor will discuss the results of your blood test, but LDL levels are categorized as follows:
- Less than 100 mg/dL – Optimal
- 100-129 mg/dL – Near optimal/above optimal
- 130-159 mg/dL – Borderline high
- 160-189 mg/dL – High
- 190 mg/dL – Very high
Together, you and your doctor will work together to create a plan that helps lower your bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol levels to improve heart health. That may include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Medication to help lower cholesterol
- Plant-based diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and lean protein sources and reduces saturated and trans fat
- Regular physical activity
A Whole Health Approach to Strengthening Your Heart
Regular check-ups with your primary care provider play an important role in monitoring, managing and controlling your whole health. By routinely tracking your cholesterol and other health indicators over time, you can intervene quickly and help get back to optimal health.
Book an appointment to speak to one of our whole health experts today about protecting your heart health. If you’re in need of lab services for an upcoming test, look no further. Learn more about our onsite lab services.