Cholesterol is a substance found in the blood that helps the body build healthy cells, but high cholesterol levels can increase the risk of heart disease. During high cholesterol, fatty substance in the blood develops and eventually grows more significant, making blood flow through arteries difficult. Those fatty substances can break and make a clot, which leads to stroke or a heart attack.
High cholesterol can be inherited through genetics but can also result from unhealthy lifestyles and food choices. So high cholesterol is highly treatable and preventable with proper exercise and a healthy diet, and some medications help reduce high cholesterol. Typically, high cholesterol has no symptoms; one can only identify it by blood testing.
Get tested for high cholesterol
Since high cholesterol doesn’t show symptoms, a doctor might suggest a cholesterol or lipid profile test depending on weight, age, or other reasons. Other reasons are:
- Haven’t tested before the age of 40
- If you are over 40 and have been a long since a previous lipid test
- Overweight (BMI over 25)
- High cholesterol or heart problems run in genes
Cholesterol/Lipid profile test can measure:
- Total cholesterol identifies the overall cholesterol in the blood, including the good and bad cholesterol.
- Good cholesterol (HDL) lowers the likelihood of having heart problems.
- Bad cholesterol (LDL and non-HDL) increases the possibility of having heart problems.
- Triglycerides measure the fatty substances similar to bad cholesterol.
Healthy cholesterol test levels
- Total cholesterol—5 or below
- Good cholesterol (HDL)—1 or above
- Bad cholesterol (LDL)—3 or below
- Bad cholesterol (non-HDL)—4 or below
- Triglycerides—2.3 or below
Tips to lower high cholesterol
- Eat less or avoid fatty foods like meat, butter, cream, cheese, coconut or palm oil, lard, cakes, etc.
- Include oily fish, brown rice, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables in your diet.
- Do regular exercise, a minimum of 150 minutes per week.
- Quit smoking.
- Cut down on alcohol consumption.
If you are struggling to lower your cholesterol, consult a medical professional.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 23 JUNE 2022