What do I do with all these numbers?
What Should I Know?
Most men know more about the
oil in their car than about the cholesterol that may be clogging their
arteries. If you know only one number, it should be your LDL cholesterol.
What Is My LDL cholesterol?
The LDL is the low density
particle of cholesterol. Most people think of it as the “Bad Cholesterol”
because it is the particle that “delivers the cholesterol to the artery wall.”
That description is probably too simple, but you will want your LDL low. Lipid
panels that calculate rather than measure LDL must be done fasting. Some lipid
panels measure the concentration of the LDL and measure the number and size of
the LDL particles.
How Low Should My LDL Be?
If you have diabetes or
any vascular disease (heart disease, carotid disease, or peripheral arterial
disease), many experts recommend less than 70. Most studies suggest that
lower is better.
lipid particle numbers are less than 1000. Larger particles (Pattern A) carry
less risk than smaller particles.
Do I Need To Know The Other Cholesterol
HDL is the high density particle of cholesterol. Most people think
of it as the “Good Cholesterol” because it is the particle that “removes
cholesterol from the artery wall.” That description is probably too
simple, but you will want your HDL above 40. Values below 40 increase
the risk of heart disease. Regular aerobic exercise and modest alcohol
intake can raise the HDL.
Total cholesterol is the number you will hear people talking about when they
say something like “My cholesterol was 210.” Because it is the sum of the HDL,
LDL, and other cholesterols, it is not as strong a predictor of heart disease as
the LDL. But, each 100 mg rise in total cholesterol confers the same risk as
ageing 10 years and each 1% fall in total cholesterol, reduces the risk of death
and heart attack by 2%.
Non-HDL Cholesterol is the difference between the Total and the HDL
cholesterol = Total minus HDL. This number is useful if your triglycerides are
high, if you are diabetic, or if you have the Metabolic Syndrome.
all the particles that can contribute to heart disease and can be calculated
even in a non-fasting state. The Non-HDL cholesterol should be less than 100 if
you are diabetic or if you have coronary or other vascular disease and below 130
if you do not.
What About Triglycerides
Triglycerides are simple fats associated with intake of simple sugars or dietary
fats. They are high in diabetics, overweight individuals, and patients with the
Metabolic Syndrome. For most patients, triglycerides can be reduced by avoiding
carbohydrates (simple sugars and starchy foods) and losing weight. If you are
counting carbohydrates, the goal would be less than 50 grams of carbohydrates a
What About Other Risks?
other risks like blood pressure, lack of aerobic exercise, smoking, diabetes
control, and obesity multiply the
of cholesterol, you should be paying attention to your
other risks while you are lowering your cholesterol.
What Exercise Is Recommended?
should plan to exercise daily. You will achieve at least 30 minutes of aerobic
exercise most days if you plan for an hour of exercise to accommodate 15 minutes
of warm up and 30-45 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise such as walking,
swimming, or cycling. Resistance training with moderate weights two or more
days a week will increase muscle and help decrease fat.
What Diet Is Recommended?
You should follow a reasonable, low-fat,
low-cholesterol diet with good portion-control, such as the TLC diet. You
should eat just enough calories to
maintain a healthy weight and
reduce your cholesterol.
What Is the TLC Diet?
Therapeutic Lifestyle Change Diet limits total fat to less than 30% of daily
calories with less than 7% as saturated fat. Daily cholesterol is limited to
200 mg. and daily sodium is limited to 2400 mg.