The adequate level of cholesterol for humans was and is a topic of discussion in medicine. Not only because of being able to determine what the acceptable figures are, but also as a public health problem. High cholesterol is behind multiple diseases.
It is a waxy substance, which means that it has similarity to what we know as fat. It is inside the body’s cells, on the walls of these cells and circulating in the blood. We could ensure that cholesterol is necessary.
Cholesterol is so necessary for humans, that its functions are diverse:
- Formation of bile acids to help digestion of food
- Skin protection through its participation in vitamin D metabolism
- Hormone production, such as thyroid and sex
The adequate level of cholesterol is not achieved only by restricting foods with high substance content. If so, it would be very easy to treat people with heart disease. The approach is more complicated because part of human cholesterol is synthesized by the body itself.
The types of cholesterol
Cholesterol circulates in the body bound to proteins. In this case, proteins are like vehicles that move the substance between the organs and cells that need it. There are two types of cholesterol transport proteins:
- LDL or low density lipoproteins: transport new cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the cells. It is what is known as ‘bad cholesterol’, that is, the one that is capable of clogging the arteries .
- HDL or high density lipoproteins: collect unused cholesterol to return it to the liver. It is called “good cholesterol”, since it eliminates excess cholesterol.
In addition to being able to measure and determine the appropriate levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol, it is also possible to perform other biochemical measurements to know the general state of the lipid profile in the body. Among these other measurements we have:
- Total cholesterol: is obtained from the sum between bad cholesterol and good cholesterol. It is not an efficient measure by itself, since it can be a high number because of a good high cholesterol, which would not pose a health hazard.
- Triglycerides: they are a form that lipids acquire in the body. Its measurement is important for dietary adjustments and to prevent diseases such as pancreatitis .
- VLDL: it is very low density lipoprotein, and would be comparable to another “bad cholesterol”. It is difficult to measure it with a laboratory test, so doctors usually calculate it from a mathematical formula based on the other lipid results.
Why measure cholesterol?
Not having adequate cholesterol levels is the leading cause of atherosclerotic disease. This consists of the formation of fatty plaques inside the arteries obstructing the passage of blood. In addition, the plaques can rupture forming blood clots .
Atherosclerotic disease includes coronary problems such as angina pectoris and acute myocardial infarction; cerebrovascular situations such as stroke and cerebral infarction; as well as peripheral arterial disease, causing obstruction in the legs.
Every adult should measure their cholesterol levels at least once a year with a blood test . High levels of the substance do not usually cause symptoms until a major cardiovascular event occurs . Therefore, measurement becomes a prevention tool.
More correctly, cholesterol should be measured regularly those who:
- Have a family history of heart attacks
- They have diabetes, type 1 or type 2
- They have high blood pressure levels – high blood pressure
- They are smokers
- Your weight is high, being at levels of overweight or obesity
What are the appropriate cholesterol levels?
Although the list of adequate cholesterol levels presented below is not applicable for children, since until adolescence varies according to each age, it is useful to have the references of adults:
- Total cholesterol: a value below 200 mg / dl is considered adequate. Above that figure is hypercholesterolemia.
- LDL: for bad cholesterol there is a value that is assimilated as optimal, and is less than 100 mg / dl. Between 100 and 140 mg / dl is an intermediate value, which already represents a risk for some scientists, and for others it should not be treated. When values greater than 140 mg / dl appear there is consensus that it should be treated. Currently the treatment of choice are statins .
- HDL: good cholesterol has adequate minimum and not maximum levels. It is normal when it exceeds 35 mg / dl.
- Triglycerides: less than 150 mg / dl are normal values . Hypertriglyceridemia is diagnosed with measurements greater than 200 mg / dl. People with triglycerides of more than 500 mg / dl are in serious severity of pancreatitis.
In short, it is not vitally important that you memorize the proper cholesterol level, but it is essential that you take the periodic blood test . With the results in hand, the professional will know if you need to start a drug treatment , change your lifestyle or only control yourself after twelve months.