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Cholesterol and Triglycerides - What You Should Know

Cholesterol is used in the building of cell membranes and other hormones while triglycerides are chains of fatty acids.

The medical term lipid disorder refers to high blood cholesterol and triglycerides. It means that there are plenty of fatty substances in the blood such as cholesterol and triglycerides.

Cholesterol is used in the building of cell membranes and other hormones while triglycerides are chains of fatty acids that provide energy for the cells to function. Cholesterol and triglycerides may be obtained from two sources; dietary and endogenous (manufactured by the body) sources.

Around eight hours after meal, one of the functions of the liver is to get the dietary cholesterol and triglycerides from the bloodstream. If in cases where there lipids are not available, the liver produces them.

Along with other proteins, the liver packages them into tiny spheres (lipoproteins) and releases these spheres in the bloodstream for delivery to the cells. The cells will now be responsible in getting only the sufficient cholesterol and triglycerides from these tiny spheres.

The body has plenty of LDL (bad) cholesterol and few HDL (good) cholesterol; LDL means "low density lipoprotein" and HDL for "high density lipoprotein".

If the LDL level is too high, the tendency is to attach itself in the blood vessels lining which may lead to the hardening of the arteries or “atherosclerosis”. As a result, the arteries will narrow or constrict to and cause high blood pressure leading to heart attack or stroke. On the other hand, the HDL cleanses the "bad" cholesterol that was removed from the blood vessels for dispatch again to the liver for another processing.

Concerning triglycerides, the standard level is the same with the other blood lipid level due to the absence of further medical studies. However, It was noted that if the triglycerides are higher, the HDL cholesterol is lower. Also, there are recent evidences that link high triglyceride level to heart disease.

Causes of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol can be due to poor diet, heredity, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, gender and age. Women undergoing premenopausal stage have low cholesterol level than men. Also, it may be the offshoot of other medical conditions like hypothyroidism (low thyroid), diabetes, chronic kidney failure, obstructive liver disease or the use of drugs such as progesterone, anabolic steroids and corticosteroids.

Moreover, the cholesterol level is affected by high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, men above 45 years old, more than 55 years old for women and the medical term "10-year" risk of heart attack.

Below are the standard measurements of ideal cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

1. Total cholesterol--Desirable level is below 200mg/dl and high risk level is above 240 mg/dl.

2. LDL cholesterol--Optimum level is less than 100 mg/dl. High risk level between 160 and 189 mg/dl. Considered very high risk if 190 mg/dl and above.

3. HDL cholesterol--Below 41 mg/dl is considered too low.

4. Triglyceride--Normal is less than 150 mg/dl. High levels are from 200 mg/dl to 499 mg/dl. Very high is greater than 500 mg/dl. 

Treatment of High Cholesterol and Triglyceride

Under ordinary circumstances, high cholesterol and triglyceride are treated with exercise, weight loss and diet. Diet includes more starch and fiber, low cholesterol, low total fat and low saturated fat. Recommended exercise is at least 20 minutes of daily aerobic activity.

If no further results are obtained, this may result to medications such as statins, bile acid binding resins, niacin, fibric acid derivatives, antihyperlipidemic agents or combinations, platelet aggregation inhibitors or cholesterol absorption inhibitors.

A visit to the doctor between the ages of 20 to 30 is a good head start to have your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked.

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