Most people think cholesterol is a bad thing. In reality, it is actually a beneficial substance in the body. It ensures cells have a strong structure. Cholesterol is also the precursor of vital hormones and vitamin D. But when cholesterol levels become elevated, problems may begin to arise.

What causes high cholesterol?

Many factors have been associated with elevated cholesterol levels such as:

  • Dietary saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol
  • hypothyroid
  • kidney problems
  • obstructive liver disease
  • medications that raise LDL such as anabolic steroids and corticosteroids
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • being overweight

Only 20% of cholesterol in the body comes from diet. The majority is created by the body. However, diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol and low in fiber seem to contribute to elevated cholesterol levels.

What do my cholesterol test results mean?

Cholesterol test results from the doctor generally contain more than just a total cholesterol level. Generally, you will see a number of results. It may be difficult to interpret. It is best to work with your doctor to understand individual results.

LDL cholesterol is still the main target of cholesterol therapy and has been most associated with risk of heart disease. Total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol also play a role in understanding your risk of heart disease. A typical cholesterol test will have other results that can be taken into consideration when evaluating other contributors to heart disease risk. The combination of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides is used to evaluate the risk for metabolic syndrome.
HbA1c is a marker for long term blood sugar balance and may help uncover diabetes.

All of these numbers will be used together to determine your risk for heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Try to keep track of your results for your own records. You will be able to track your progress.

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