Normal cholesterol levels will usually fall into one of three categories: desirable, borderline high risk, and high risk. A desirable safe cholesterol level is when the total blood ratio is less than 200 mg/dL. Borderline high risk falls between 200-239 mg/dL, and high risk equals 240 mg/dL and over. If the total blood ratio is less than 200mg/dL, the heart attack risk is typically low considering the individual does not exhibit any other common risk factors. Even individuals with a low risk factor are still advised to maintain a healthy diet low in saturated fats and get enough physical activity on a daily basis. Physicians suggest getting levels checked at least every five years or more often if the person is a man over 45 or a woman over 55. People with levels from 200 to 239 mg/dL are considered borderline high risk; almost one third of all Americans fall into this category. These people should be rechecked every one to two years if the levels are in the borderline range, if the HDL is less than 40mg/dL, and if there are no other risk factors present for heart disease.
In addition to rechecking the blood ratios more frequently, the total intake of saturated fats in foods should be reduced. High HDL and desirable LDL levels may be present in women before menopause and young active men, if there are no other risk factors then there should be no cause for concern. Everyone’s case is different and seeking regular medical care can determine which category a person fits into. Normal cholesterol levels are found in over half of Americans. This, however, does not eliminate the high risk for heart disease found within this group. There can be other factors that raise a risk factor even when a safe cholesterol level is recorded. Physicians are trained to consider all health history and other pertinent medical information to determine risk. Total blood ratios are the most common measurement of cholesterol. It is measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood (Mg/dL). Knowledge of one’s own count as well as the categories of risk should be investigated for maintaining a healthy body. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Romans 6:12). It is a Christian’s obligation to care for their own body as a temple in which the Holy Spirit resides.
Risk factors associated with the influence of a persons blood ratio include; diet, age, weight, gender, genetics, diseases, and lifestyle. There are two dietary factors that can increase normal cholesterol levels. 1) eating high saturated fat foods, 2) eating foods containing a higher than safe cholesterol level. Foods with saturated fat include hydrogenated vegetable oils, especially palm and coconut oil, avocados, and other high fat vegetable origin foods. Foods that actually contain cholesterol include; red meat, eggs, lard, and shrimp. Couple these foods with added saturated fat and a recipe for disaster can be created. A blood level ratio can also increase as a person ages. People who are overweight have placed themselves in a higher risk category. The location of the extra weight also impacts whether or not the blood ratio will increase. When the weight is centered around the abdominal area, as opposed to the legs or buttocks, an increased risk exists. Some people are predisposed to risk due to the genetics that have been inherited. A variety of minor genetic defects have been known to increase blood ratios. Gender also plays a part in the determination of risk. Men tend to have higher LDL and lower HDL than women, especially women younger than the age of 50. Women, after the age of 50 or post menopausal, experience decreasing amounts of estrogen and LDL levels are prone to rise.
Diseases, such as diabetes, can lower HDL, increase triglycerides, and even accelerate atherosclerosis development. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can also increase the development. Some medications can be used to help return blood ratios to normal cholesterol levels. In addition to diseases, a person’s lifestyle can also increase a safe cholesterol level. Factors that affect levels negatively include high stress and cigarette smoking. Positive factors include regular exercise. Studies have even shown that moderate alcohol consumption (one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men) can contribute to raising HDL which reduces the risk of heart attack. Despite the research, however, it is unlikely that physicians will prescribe the habitual use of alcohol because there are many negative consequences associated with the use of alcohol when it is abused. Prevention is the best approach and having blood ratios periodically checked can be the difference between life and death. Remembering that risk factors don’t exist in a vacuum and that they will aid in the prevention of heart disease and cardiovascular problems.