I recently took the liberty of scheduling an appointment with my doctor to get a physical and get a cholesterol blood test taken. I did this so that it could be added to my records at my physician’s office so that if I ever become ill I will have a historical reference point of what it is like for me to be healthy.
I just received the results back and did not know what to make of them, so I looked into it more closely with the help of a trusty search engine.
First of all, here were my results:
Lipid Panel In Range Reference Range
Triglycerides 105 <150 MG/DL
Cholesterol, Total 176 <200 MG/DL
HDL Cholesterol 47 <OR = 40 MG/DL
LDL Cholesterol 108 < 130 MG/DL (CALC)
So now let’s break the results down. First, I did some research on Triglycerides and found that "triglycerides in plasma are derived from fats eaten in foods or made in the body from other energy sources like carbohydrates." A more thorough explanation can be found on the American Heart Associate Web site. However my "Reference Range" of less than 150 MG/DL was listed on my results and I also listed it above. I verified the Triglyceride Reference figure on the AHA site as well and they appeared to sync up.
Next, I looked up cholesterol in general and found that it is defined as "a soft, waxy substance found among the lipids (fats) in the bloodstream and in all your body's cells." Anything under 200 MG/DL is considered a normal level. My Cholesterol was 176 MG/DL and thus is approaching the 200 MG/DL level so I probably should watch what fatty foods mainly meats I eat.
According to the AHA, "cholesterol and other fats can't dissolve in the blood. They have to be transported to and from the cells by special carriers called lipoproteins. "
There are two types of lipoproteins, LDL or low-density lipoproteins and HDL or high-density lipoproteins. If we could revert back to the simplest thoughts that we picked up while watching any Disney film such as "Peter Pan" and think of the battle of "good" verses "evil" that took place, in doing so we would consider HDL to be "good" or Peter Pan and LDL to be "evil" or Captain Hook. HDL is believed to be "good" because it carries cholesterol through the blood back to the liver to be processed. Conversely, LDL is considered "evil" because it is a lighter sticky lipoprotein that adheres the cholesterol it carries to the walls of your vein thus causing build-up and blockage of blood flow. This blockage causes your heart to work harder and thus potential heart or brain ailments can result.
So let’s look at my "evil" lipoproteins which are 108 MG/DL in this particular test. According to the AHA, "a high level of LDL cholesterol (160 mg/dL and above) reflects an increased risk of heart disease. If you have heart disease, your LDL cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL." The reference that my physician used was less than 130 MG/DL as a normal reading for my age and weight.
Since cholesterol can appear from your liver or from the foods you take in, it is good to remember that meats, eggs, poultry and fish have cholesterol while foods from plants do not. It may be a smart, proactive move to lower my LDL by watching the foods I eat and striving to eat more foods from plants (Popeye ate cans of spinach for a reason!) and less from meats sources.
So now let’s take a look at my "good" lipoproteins which were taken at 47 MG/DL. According to the AHA, "the opposite is also true: a low HDL level (less than 40 mg/dL) indicates a greater risk. A low HDL cholesterol level also may raise stroke risk."
So in this particular test I came out as in the normal range again however, I may want to increase my HDL levels by increasing my exercise level. In the case of this blood test, my HDL may be lower then normal since I had not worked out in the week prior due to an erratic work schedule which included a trip to New Orleans where I indulged on many foods loaded with cholesterol!
So in general, my cholesterol test came back completely normal but health and longevity of life can be associated to the lifestyle you lead so a few changes I make to my lifestyle habits now may help to extend mine down the road. However, it also may be important to do a little family research and background checking and find out if anyone in the family has a history of high cholesterol since it can be associated with how your body (liver) handles cholesterol, which can be hereditary or genetic.