Have you had your cholesterol checked but couldn't remember what was what? Do you get confused with "good cholesterol" and "bad cholesterol"? What about Triglycerides?
Well, you're not alone! These topics can be confusing but understanding them doesn't take too much effort and can decrease your risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Current recommendations suggest that we should start having your cholesterol checked at the age of 35 (males) & 40 (females). If you have certain conditions in your personal or families history you may need to have it checked sooner. The reason for checking it is that elevated "bad cholesterol" or low "good cholesterol" is a risk factor for coronary artery disease which can lead to heart attacks & strokes. We know that, statistically speaking, the lower your LDL the lower your risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Current recommendations for otherwise healthy people is a total cholesterol (TC) of less than 200. Triglycerides should be <200. LDL should be <130 & HDL should be >60.
Your serum lipids should be tested from a fasting specimen. This is because some of the elements are tested directly and some of them are calculated based on other results. The formula for the calculation is called the Friedewald equation and is as follows:
HDL = TC - LDL - TG(o.20)
This formula assumes that you have fasted for 12-14 hours. The reason for this is that serum TGs often elevate after a mean (depending on what was consumed) and remain elevated for several hours. Elevated TGs will falsely lower your LDL and give an erroneous result. There are direct LDL testing methods but they are not readily available and they are more expensive.
I will be posting more information on cholesterol and why it is so important. Stay tuned.