Do You Check Your Cholesterol?

I have been getting my cholesterol checked annually for a few years now although it is only recommended to get your levels checked once every five years.
Before I joined WW, the OBGYN I was seeing at the time checked my cholesterol and put me on Crestor.  It was a miracle drug and my cholesterol numbers dropped pretty rapidly.  Not too long after starting the drug my liver function tests became abnormal and there was a chance the medication was causing more harm than good.  She took me off the drug so we could monitor my liver and I have been off it ever since.  I started WW during the time I was off the drug, changed doctors, and told the new OBGYN that I wanted to stay off the drug and see how far I could go on WW.

Here are my cholesterol numbers from 2006 before I started Crestor and WW:

Total Cholesterol: 247

Triglycerides: 108

HDL: 38

LDL: 187

Here are my cholesterol numbers from last week:

Total Cholesterol: 176

Triglycerides: 64

HDL: 50.3

LDL: 113

Before we can really talk about cholesterol, it is important to know what these terms mean and what the range is for the numbers.

According to the American Heart Association, “High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Keeping your cholesterol levels healthy is a great way to keep your heart healthy and lower your chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke."
“Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat. Cholesterol is only found in animal products.”
Total cholesterol level should be less than 200.  The range from 200-239 is considered borderline high.  Anything 240 and above is considered high blood cholesterol.  This means you are living with twice the risk of heart disease.
Triglyceride level should be less than 100 to be considered optimal.  Less than 150 is considered normal.  The range 150-199 is borderline high.  200-499 is high.  Above 500 is considered very high.  The mean level of triglycerides for adults age 20 and over is 144.2.  Remember when I talked about healthy fats?  Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are your friend!
HDL "good" cholesterol level should be above 60 to be considered protective against heart disease.  For men anything less than 40 causes a major risk and for women anything less than 50.
LDL "bad" cholesterol level should be less than 100.  The range from 100-129 is considered near or above optimal. 130-159 border line high. 160-189 is high. Anything over 190 is considered very high.  The mean level of LDL cholesterol for adults age 20 or older is 115.
We discuss all the time how the number on the scale is just one indicator of healthy living.  If you have not had your cholesterol checked, or if it has been a while, consider getting that done.  Know your numbers and know how to arm yourself with the right foods and exercise to make the changes needed and talk to your doctor. 
In reading through the research to post this blog, I already feel better.  Consistently, my LDL is over 100.  However, seeing that I am right around the mean does make me feel better.  High cholesterol runs in my family.  My HDL is the highest it has ever been and I am just barely at 50 right now.  It is almost always low.  Seeing my low triglyceride level lets me know that my diet and exercise is paying off and keeping up with that every days is a small commitment to living longer and staying healthy!
I learned a lot about nutrition when I attended the Basic Dispatch Academy at POST.  The Health and Wellness Instructor encouraged us to get our cholesterol numbers checked.  Central District Health will do a full blood panel for just $20, which is now increasing to $25 on July 1st.  Some medical plans might even reimburse you the cost.  Check with your provider and also check to see if there is a community type program available.  It is important to know your numbers!

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