According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 33% of adults who had their blood cholesterol checked in 2019 were told it was high. In some states, that number was nearly 40%. We’re all aware that bad cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and many other health issues. This is because it can cause your arteries to narrow and harden. So, if we all know the risks, why is the percentage of people with bad cholesterol that high?
Some people are surprised to learn they have high cholesterol because they maintain a healthy weight and eat well. However, this might not be enough since genetics can play a role in high cholesterol. Bad cholesterol levels by themselves might not cause noticeable symptoms, which is another reason people may have high cholesterol without being aware.
Because of this, it’s important to have your cholesterol levels checked by a doctor and to know if you might be at a higher risk due to family history. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a person should have their first cholesterol screening around age 10 and then once every five years until 45.
Men should have their cholesterol screened every one or two years between the ages of 45 and 65. Women can wait until the age of 55 before starting to screen every one or two years. Anyone who is 65 years or older should check their cholesterol every year.
If you are wondering some of the ways to achieve lower cholesterol, we’ll look at those after we understand what doctors are talking about when they discuss “high” cholesterol.
According to the Mayo Clinic, cholesterol is carried through your blood, attached to proteins. This combination is called a lipoprotein. There are two types of these. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it builds up in the walls of the arteries to make them hard and narrow. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered good cholesterol.
Because LDL is the type that causes adverse health effects, that is the number doctors pinpoint to determine if you have high cholesterol. Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). According to Healthline, 160 mg/dL or higher for LDL is considered high. Your LDL levels are considered very high if they are 190 or more.
Statins are the most common cholesterol-lowering drugs. They slow your liver’s production of cholesterol, which in turn lower your LDL.
Berberine benefits a number of systems in your body. Among them, berberine benefits the liver by supporting the removal of LDL from the body. Berberine benefits heart health by supporting healthy blood pressure as well. There are been studies done that compare berberine benefits to statins.
It seems like a good exercise routine is one of the frontline defenses for most health conditions. Moderate physical activity for 30-60 minutes a day can boost your good cholesterol of HDL. You can vary how you exercise between jogging, biking, swimming, or other ways to help complete your physical activity five times a week.
Incorporating certain foods into your diet can have a positive impact on your cholesterol levels. Adding more fiber and healthier fats from nuts can help with your HDL levels. Meanwhile, avoid saturated and trans fats as much as you can, as these can contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Alcohol has been linked to increased cholesterol levels and elevated blood pressure. On the other hand, smoking can lower your good cholesterol. The CDC recommends that men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and women should have no more than one alcoholic drink per day. If you currently smoke, quitting is the most effective way to help maintain your HDL levels.
Of course, very few people intentionally add stress into their lives. However, if every day is highly stressful for you, you need to figure out why and address it. Try to dedicate a few minutes toward guided meditation or deep breathing exercises. You can do an internet search to find one you like. Lowering your stress can help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.
High cholesterol levels affect a sizable part of the population. The health risks associated with this condition are numerous. Keep in mind that even if you maintain a healthy weight, you may be at risk due to family history or other factors. To avoid being surprised, follow the recommended guidelines for how frequently you should test your cholesterol levels. Once you turn 65, you should check them annually. There are certain tactics you can use to help lower your cholesterol, including berberine, exercise, and managing your stress.