High Blood Cholesterol
Diabetes Information Page
What Affects Cholesterol Levels?
A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. These are things you can do something about:
- Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level go up. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level.
- Weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. Losing weight can help lower your LDL and total cholesterol levels, as well as raise your HDL and lower your triglyceride levels.
- Physical Activity. Not being physically active is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It also helps you lose weight. You should try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days.
Things you cannot do anything about also can affect cholesterol levels. These include:
A "lipoprotein profile" is a blood test done after a 9- to 12-hour fast and gives information about your:
- Age and Gender. As women and men get older, their cholesterol levels rise. After the age of menopause, women's LDL levels tend to rise.
- Heredity. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
What Do Your Cholesterol Numbers Mean? *Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per decaliter (dL) of blood.
- Total cholesterol
- LDL (bad) cholesterol - the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
- HDL (good) cholesterol - helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries
- Triglycerides-another form of fat in your blood
Knowing your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol can give you a general idea about your cholesterol levels. See how your cholesterol numbers compare to the tables below.
Lower your risk of developing heart disease by controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure, and weight; eating a heart-healthy diet; and getting more exercise. It's also important to get your "bad cholesterol" level below 100 mg/dL. There are 3 different types of cholesterol found in your body:
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is known as the "bad cholesterol." Too much LDL-C can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor can help you determine your LDL-C target.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is called the "good cholesterol" because it helps carry "bad cholesterol" away from other parts of the body and back to your liver, where it can be removed from your body. The recommended level for HDL-C is at least 40 mg/dL.
- Triglycerides are used to carry both the "good" and "bad" cholesterols throughout the body. People who are overweight and have diabetes are more likely to have high levels of triglycerides. Also, a diet high in fats and simple carbohydrates (such as sugar, white bread, and alcohol) can result in high triglyceride levels. A normal triglyceride level is considered to be less than 150 mg/dL.
Less than 200 mg/dL
240 mg/dL and above
|LDL Cholesterol Level
Less than 100 mg/dL
100- 129 mg/dL
190 mg/dL and above
|LDL Cholesterol Category
Near optimal/above optimal
Source: National Cholesterol Education Program, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH Publication No. 01-3290, May 2001
Last updated June 3, 2002