What is Cholesterol Test?
A complete cholesterol test is also called a lipid panel or lipid profile.Your doctor can use it to measure the amount of “good” and “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride, a type of fat, in your blood. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy fat that your body needs to function properly. However, too much cholesterol can lead to heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, a clogging or hardening of your arteries.
Who Is at Risk of High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol testing is very important if you:
1) Have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease
2) Are overweight or obese
3) Drink alcohol frequently
4) Smoke cigarettes
5) Lead an inactive lifestyle
6) Have diabetes, kidney disease, poly cystic ovary syndrome, or an under active thyroid gland
All of above things can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol.
What Does a Cholesterol Test Measure?
A complete cholesterol test measures four types of lipids, or fats, in your blood:
Total cholesterol: This is the total amount of cholesterol in your blood.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: This is referred to as “bad” cholesterol. Too much of it raises your risk of heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: This is referred to as “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from your blood.
Triglyceride: When you eat, your body converts the calories it doesn’t need into triglyceride, which are stored in your fat cells. People who are overweight, diabetic, eat too many sweets, or drink too much alcohol can have high triglyceride levels.
Preparation for a Cholesterol Test
In some cases, your doctor may ask you to fast before having your cholesterol levels tested. If you’re only getting your HDL and total cholesterol levels checked, you may be able to eat beforehand. However, if you’re having a complete lipid profile done, you should avoid eating or drinking anything other than water for nine to 12 hours before your test.
Before your test, you should also tell your doctor about:
Any symptoms or health problems you’re experiencing
Your family history of heart health
All medications and supplements that you’re currently taking
If you’re taking medications that could increase your cholesterol levels, such as birth control pills, your doctor may ask you to stop taking them a few days before your test.
How Is a Cholesterol Test Performed?
To check your cholesterol levels, your doctor will need to get a sample of your blood.You will probably have your blood drawn in the morning, sometimes after fasting since the night before.
A blood test is an outpatient procedure. It takes only a few minutes and is relatively painless. It’s usually performed at a diagnostic lab. In some cases, it can also be performed during a regular doctor visit, at a local pharmacy, or even at home. Walk-in clinic rates can cost anywhere from INR 300 to INR 1000.Cholesterol testing at a local pharmacy can cost around INR 350. An at-home test can cost less. While tests that need to be shipped to a lab can cost more.
There are very few risks associated with having your blood drawn for a cholesterol test. You may feel slightly faint or have some soreness or pain at the site where your blood was drawn. There’s also a very slight risk of infection at the puncture site.
What Do the Test Results Mean?
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per decilitre (dL) of blood. Ideal results for most adults are:
LDL: 70 to 130 mg/dL (the lower the number, the better)
HDL: more than 40 to 60 mg/dL (the higher the number, the better)
Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL (the lower the number, the better)
Triglyceride: 10 to 150 mg/dL (the lower the number, the better)
If your cholesterol numbers are outside of the normal range, you may be at a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis. If your test results are abnormal, your doctor may order a blood glucose test to check for diabetes. Your doctor might also order a thyroid function test to determine if your thyroid is under active.
Can Test Results Be Wrong?
In some cases, cholesterol test results can be wrong. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that one common method for calculating LDL cholesterol levels often produces inaccurate results.
Improper fasting, medications, human error, and a variety of other factors can cause your test to produce false-negative or false-positive results. Testing both your HDL and LDL levels typically produces more accurate results than checking your LDL alone.
Next Steps and Treatment
High cholesterol can be treated with lifestyle changes and medication. Lowering high levels of LDL in your blood can help you avoid problems with your heart and blood vessels.
To help lower your cholesterol levels:
Quit smoking tobacco and limit your alcohol consumption. Avoid high-fat and high-sodium foods, while maintaining a well-balanced diet. Eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products, low-fat dairy products, and lean sources of protein. Exercise regularly. Try to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, as well as two sessions of muscle strengthening activities. Your doctor may put you on a “therapeutic lifestyle changes” or TLC diet. Under this meal plan, only 7 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. It also requires you to get less than 200 mg of cholesterol from your food each day.
Some foods help your digestive tract absorb less cholesterol. For example, your doctor may encourage you to eat more.
Oats, barley, and other whole grains
Fruits such as apples, pears, bananas, and oranges
Vegetables such as eggplant and okra
Beans and legumes, such as kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils
Obesity is also a common risk factor for high cholesterol and heart disease. Your doctor may encourage you to lose weight by cutting calories from your diet and exercising more.
Taking medications such as statins can also help keep your cholesterol in check. These medications help lower your LDL levels.
Older women, over 75, taking statins, which are cholesterol-lowering drugs, may be at 33 per cent increased risk of developing diabetes, according to a new study. The risk increased to over 50 per cent for women taking higher doses of statins, said researchers of the University of Queensland in Australia. Statins are prescribed to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes as well as reduce mortality. This study links its usage to the risk of diabetes, one of the most dangerous kinds of lifestyle diseases affecting millions across the globe.
"The study showed that almost 50 per cent of women in their late seventies and eighties took statins, and five per cent were diagnosed with new-onset diabetes," said Mark Jones from the University of Queensland.
"What's most concerning was that we found a 'dose effect' where the risk of diabetes increased as the dosage of statins increased," Jones added.
For the study, published in the journal Drugs and Ageing, the team included 8,372 Australian women born between 1921 and 1926. The results showed that elderly women should not be exposed to higher doses of statins. Elderly women currently taking statins should be carefully and regularly monitored for increased blood glucose to ensure early detection and appropriate management of this potential adverse effect, including consideration of de-prescribing, the researchers suggested.
"Those elderly women taking statins should be carefully and regularly monitored for increased blood glucose to ensure early detection and management of diabetes," added Jones.
Consuming fatty fish four times a week may help increase the amount of good cholesterol and prevent the risk of heart disease, finds a study.
The findings showed that fatty fish increases the size and lipid composition of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles, also known as good cholesterol, in people with impaired glucose metabolism.
Morever, using daily 30 ml of camelina oil -- rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid -- was also found to decrease the number of harmful Intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL) particles.
The IDL lipoprotein is the precursor of (low-density lipoprotein) LDL, which is also known as the bad cholesterol. Previous studies have shown that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have a beneficial effect on lipoprotein size and composition.
Both of these changes can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, said researchers from the University of Eastern Finland.
For the study, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, the team involved nearly 100 Finnish men and women aged between 40 and 72, with impaired glucose metabolism.
Study participants were randomly divided into four groups for a 12-week intervention: the camelina oil group, the fatty fish group, the lean fish group, and the control group.
While people in the camelina oil group, fatty fish group, showed potentially higher HDL and lower IDL cholesterol level, eating lean fish, was not associated with changes in the number, size or composition of lipoprotein particles, the researchers said.
High cholesterol, which is a known factor for the decrease in heart health may harm more than our cardiovascular systems and lead to bone loss, say researchers including one of Indian-origin.
The new research conducted using animal models suggests that high levels of cholesterol can trigger mitochondrial oxidative stress on cartilage cells -- connective tissue -- causing them to die.
This may ultimately lead to the development of osteoarthritis -- a type of arthritis that occurs when flexible tissue at the ends of bones wears down, said Indira Prasadam, a researcher at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.
For the study, Prasadam and her team used two different animal models to mimic human hypercholesterolemia.
The first was a mouse model that had an altered gene called Apolipoprotein E that made the animals hypercholesteremic.
The other was a rat model, and the animals were fed a high-cholesterol diet, causing diet-induced hypercholesterolemia.
Both models were fed a high-cholesterol diet or control normal diet, after which they underwent a surgery that mimics knee injuries in people and was designed to bring on osteoarthritis.
Both the mice and the rats that were subjected to surgery and fed with high-cholesterol diets showed more severe osteoarthritis development than seen in the normal diet group.
However, when both the mice and the rats were exposed to the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin and mitochondrion-targeted antioxidants, the development of osteoarthritis was markedly decreased in relation to the untreated groups.
This study tested the potential therapeutic role of mitochondria targeting antioxidants in high-cholesterol-induced osteoarthritis, the researchers said.
"Our team has already begun working alongside dieticians to try to educate the public about healthy eating and how to keep cholesterol levels at a manageable level that won't damage joints," Prasadam said.
The research was published online in The FASEB Journal.
According to a new study, eating one serving a day of beans, peas or lentils can significantly reduce "bad cholesterol" and therefore the risk of cardiovascular disease. Sievenpiper of St Michael's Hospital here said that by eating one serving a day of pulses, people could lower their LDL ('bad') cholesterol by five percent.
"We have a lot of room in our diets for increasing our pulse intake to derive the cardiovascular benefits," Sievenpiper said. He said that this would translate into a five to six percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Pulses have a low glycemic index (foods that break down slowly) and tend to reduce or displace animal protein as well as "bad" fats such as trans fat in a dish or meal. "Pulses already play a role in many traditional cuisines, including Mediterranean and South Asian. As an added bonus, they're inexpensive," he added.
Sievenpiper's meta-analysis reviewed 26 randomised controlled trials that included 1,037 people.
Men had greater reduction in LDL cholesterol compared with women, perhaps because their diets are poorer and cholesterol levels are higher and benefit more markedly from a healthier diet.
Some study participants reported stomach upset such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea or constipation but these symptoms subsided over time. The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.