Why is it good to measure cholesterol levels frequently?

Measuring cholesterol levels every 5 years (or even more frequently) is a good precaution measure. More frequent monitoring is also needed for all those who already have one or more risk factors for atherosclerosis.
Keywords: cholesterol, cholesterol levels, measuring cholesterol, normal cholesterol level

Cholesterol and cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease can develop because of many factors, but in the developed world by far the most common factor for developing of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a build-up of cholesterol in the arterial wall.

Risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease are:

Living habits and bad habits (full control over it) biochemical and physiological characteristics (some control over it) personal characteristics (no control over it)
diet containing too many calories, cholesterol and saturated fats elevated LDL cholesterol levels age
smoking decreased HDL cholesterol levels gender
drinking high blood pressure known case of cardiovascular disease in the family
physical inactivity / no exercise diabetes, hyperglycemia cardiovascular disease has been identified

While you have no control over genetics you do have a full control over your bad habits. You can quit your bad habits anytime, you only need a lot of will to do it. For example you can start performing regular exercise and thus directly lower your cholesterol levels.

There are also biochemical and physiological characteristics on which you can indirectly influence and hence lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. For example you can start eating foods that lower cholesterol levels naturally.

How often should you be measuring your cholesterol levels?

Every adult should know the level of fats in their blood. With fats in blood we are referring to total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

Recommended target cholesterol levels

Recommended cholesterol levels are listed below. Bear in mind that results may vary so if your measured levels are high than there is no reason to panic yet. There’s a good chance that your results are wrong and influenced by the meal you had the day before the test. In such case we recommend taking another measurement to be sure. Also, don’t eat anything 12 hours prior to testing (you can only drink water).

Expected cholesterol levels:

  • Normal cholesterol level is anything below 200 mg/dl (5 mmol/l) for men and women, or below 160 mg/dl (4 mmol/l) for patients with cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
  • Normal HDL cholesterol level is above 40 mg/dl (1,1 mmol/l) for men and above 50 mg/dl (1,3 mmol/l) for women.
  • Normal LDL cholesterol level is below 100 mg/dl (3 mmol/l) for men and women, and below 75 mg/dl (2 mmol/l) for patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
  • Normal triglycerides level is anything below 150 mg/dl (1,7 mmol/l) for men and women.
  • If your last measurement gave normal results you should measure the level of blood lipids again in five years. If levels were increased you should measure your cholesterol levels more frequently. More frequent monitoring is also needed for all those who already have one or more risk factors for atherosclerosis. Exactly how often should you perform these checks will be assessed by your doctor.

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