Lipids are essentially organic compounds, which are similar to fat-like substances. They form an important part of cells and serves as an important source of energy. Lipids cannot be dissolved in the water, but they can be dissolved with the help of alcohol. A lipid profile test is basically a combination of tests which are routinely performed on the plasma. The plasma is the liquid portion of the blood excluding the blood cells. The tests help in determining the number of lipids, such as cholesterol and triglyceride prevalent in the bloodstream.
When Should You Get a Lipid Test?
Lipid Profile Tests are essential for people who show symptoms or signs of having high cholesterol. People who are chain smokers and regular alcohol consumers, obese or have a hereditary trait of heart diseases or high cholesterol should be the first people who should opt for lipid profile tests.
Hypercholesterolemia immediately increases the likelihood of a heart disease and PAD and is closely related to an individual’s diet and lifestyle. Cholesterol is produced in the body for production of hormones, fluids to aid in digestion of food, and vitamin D. Additionally, diet also plays a crucial role in the production of cholesterol.
Cholesterol plays an important role for production of healthy cells in the body. It is produced in the liver and a variant of cholesterol called as LDL is considered to be unhealthy. However, cholesterol acts as a healing agent and plays a vital part in cases of arterial inflammation. If an individual does not have any idea of an arterial inflammation and continues to live an unhealthy lifestyle and eats diet not considered to be good for health this healing process continues resulting in an increased levels of cholesterol. This increase leads to fatty deposits in the blood vessels clogging them up and decreases the blood flow. This narrowing of the arteries or blood vessel can have serious consequences, especially if the arteries of the heart get blocked.
There are basically two types of cholesterol.
Low-Density Lipoprotein or LDL. This is a combination of fat and protein that traverses to all parts of the body through the blood and deposits cholesterol to areas where they are required. This type of cholesterol is not considered healthy because it causes narrowing of the arteries and reduces blood flow.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL). This type of cholesterol has a higher ratio of protein and fat. The function of HDL cholesterol is to eliminate all the deposited excess cholesterol from the arteries back to the liver. This is precisely the reason as to why it is termed as Good Cholesterol as it minimized formation of clogs or plaques in the arteries.
Cholesterol levels tend to go up as one ages. Hypercholesterolemia is completely asymptomatic. Blood draw is the only way to check whether an individual has hypercholesterolemia or not. However, there are several factors which can be related to hypercholesterolemia to include.
Diet– This plays a crucial role in increasing cholesterol levels. If an individual consumes red meat in large amounts almost daily along with saturated fats and dairy products, then he is at an increased risk for having high cholesterol levels
Overweight– An individual with a BMI of more than 30 is at an increased risk of having hypercholesterolemia.
Large Waist Circumference – For males, if the waist circumference is more than 40 then the risk of high cholesterol is more. In case females the waist circumference should be less than or equal to 35.
Sedentary Lifestyle – If an individual leads a sedentary lifestyle and does not do any form of exercise to stay fit then the chances of the individual having high cholesterol levels is exponentially high.
Nicotine Use– Smokers tend to have a damaged artery walls due to the smoke and nicotine present in cigarettes. This decreases the levels of HDL and increases levels of bad cholesterol or LDL.
Diabetes – having above normal blood sugar levels is also a pointer towards having high cholesterol levels.
What does a Lipid Profile Test Measure?
In order to measure the cholesterol level of an individual, a doctor will require a sample of the individual’s blood. The patient generally has their blood drawn in the morning. In some cases, the patient is required to fast from the night prior to the blood test.
A lipid profile test measures the following components.
- Total Cholesterol Level or HDL Cholesterol Ratio
- Total Lipids
- Serum Phospholipids
- Serum Total Cholesterol
- Serum HDL Cholesterol
- Serum Triglycerides
Electrophoretic fractionation helps in determining the levels of Chylomicrons, Low-Density Lipoprotein, High-Density Lipoprotein and Very Low-Density Lipoprotein
The components mentioned above have an individual normalized level that the body is required to maintain. The various levels of the components and their degree of risk are mentioned below.
Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol. Normal Level (No Risk) – Below or equivalent to 100 mg/DL; Optimal Level (No Risk) – Between 100-129 mg/DL; High Level (High degree of Risk) – Between 160-190 mg/DL or above 190 mg/DL.
Total Cholesterol. Optimal Level (No Risk) – Below 200 mg/DL; High Level (High degree of Risk) – 200 – 239 mg/DL or above 240 mg/DL.
High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol. Dangerously Low Level (High degree of Risk) – Below 40 mg/DL; Optimal Level – Between 40 to 50 mg/DL; Dangerously High Level (Low Degree of Risk) – Above 60 mg/DL.
Fasting Triglycerides – Normal Level (No Risk) – Below 150 mg/DL; High Level (High degree of Risk) – Above 500 mg/DL.
Non-HDL Cholesterol. Optimal Level (No Risk) – Below 130 mg/DL; Marginally High (Low Degree of Risk) – 130-159 mg/DL; High Level (High Degree of Risk) – Between 190 and 219 mg/DL or above 220 mg/DL.
Abnormally high or low levels of lipids suggest that an individual needs undergo treatment at the earliest. Levels of lipids are dependent on several factors such as age and genetic history. Habits such as smoking and pre-existing diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure should also be taken into consideration. A lipid profile test is suggested for individuals who showcase indicators of developing any heart-related disease.
There is a certain degree of preparation required before going in for a lipid profile test. Usually, the patient is instructed by the doctor to fast before the test is conducted. It is advisable to consume only fluids 8 to 10 hours before the test is conducted. It is advisable to avoid fatty food, consumption of alcohol and exercising prior to the lipid profile test.
The risk involved in the test. The only form of risk the patient is subjected to in relation to a lipid profile test is minimal bruising or swelling from the area where the blood is drawn from.
How to Manage Cholesterol Levels?
It is well known that lifestyle and eating habits of an individual is directly linked to hypercholesterolemia. There are many medications available in the market used to control cholesterol levels and prevent any complications arising from such a condition; however, eating healthy and exercising is a much better option to decrease cholesterol levels naturally.
Here are a few tips on how to manage cholesterol levels effectively.
A Balanced Diet And Healthy Lifestyle – The foundation to maintaining a healthy and functional body revolves around the sole factor of following a set routine, which includes a certain level of physical exercise and a balanced diet which delivers all the necessary nutrients to your body. A balanced diet basically includes a substantial intake of high-quality protein, carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals as well as consuming large quantities of water during the course of the day. Implementing a balanced diet can diminish the likelihood of diseases and help in promoting overall body health and functionality. The nutrients we benefit from the food we consume plays a vital role in determining effective completion of day to day activities and living. It helps in the process of reassembling prior damage caused to cells and restores it to its original state.
The effectiveness of our immune system is based on our daily consumption of food. It is a difficult task to completely alter to a healthy lifestyle and diet at once if you are not used to it. However, making gradual changes can improve the current situation drastically and help your body to acclimatize to the changes as well. By allowing the body to slowly gravitate towards a healthier lifestyle can have a positive impact on a person’s mental state of mind and encourage them to remain consistent with the changes they make in their life. A healthier life steers clear of numerous ailments and reduces the risk potential of individuals of all age limits.
Controlled Consumption Of Alcohol – Refraining from consuming copious amounts of alcohol can significantly reduce the chances of liver diseases from occurring and lower cholesterol levels. It is advisable to keep a limit of 3 drinks at a time. The chemicals produced by alcohol once it disseminates can have a harmful effect over a period of time. Alcoholic addiction is a number one problem and should be controlled effectively.
Quit Smoking – Refrain from the consumption of tobacco in any form, whether it is chewing it or indulging in smoking cigarettes. By quitting smoking, an individual can considerably lower their respective cholesterol levels to a great degree.
Substituting Coffee With Green Tea – Green tea has a variety of health benefits as it has plenty of herbs in it. The antioxidants present in Green Tea prevent cancer. Studies have suggested that consumption of green tea regularly reduces LDL cholesterol although minimally.
Increased Consumption of Nuts – They are known to have plenty of vegetable proteins with unsaturated fats which are extremely good for heart. Eating a handful of nuts every day can significant decrease the cholesterol levels. Nuts like Almonds and walnuts are most beneficial for heart. Nuts are an easily accessible snack which when consumed on a daily basis can be very beneficial not only for the heart but also helps in decreasing the cholesterol levels.
Red Wine – Research suggest that alcohol increases HDL levels in the body by up to 20%. Although Among all forms of alcohol, red wine is believe to be the most beneficial as it not only increases HDL but also decreases the LDL or bad cholesterol levels due to antioxidants present in them. Individuals who do not prefer alcohol can opt for grape juice instead.
Increase Consumption Of Chocolates – It may look surprising but chocolates too have the ability to decrease bad cholesterol levels. Chocolates have antioxidants which promote increase of HDL levels in the body. Dark chocolate in particular has shown a significant rise in HDL levels if consumed in moderation.
Include Olive Oil While Cooking Meals – Olive Oil is perhaps the most common form of oil used to cook food. It is also used in salad dressings and marinating chicken or fish. It has monounsaturated fatty acids which is extremely good for the heart. These fatty acids are well known to decrease LDL cholesterol from blood and prevent complications arising from hypercholesterolemia. It is also a good option to use if you are trying to lose weight.
Include Ginger As A Part Of The Diet – Ginger is an ancient natural remedy used to treat various ailments like arthritis. It is a food product which spices up the food and makes it tastier. It also acts as an effective antiinflammatory. Studies suggest that ginger has all the properties to act as an anti-cholesterol agent. It does so by increasing production of an enzyme which increases consumption of cholesterol by the body in turn decreasing their levels.
Eat Avocadoes In A Moderated Amount – Avocadoes are filled with monounsaturated fatty acids which increase HDL levels in the blood and decrease the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol. Avocadoes have beta-sitosterol in it, which decreases the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed by the body from food products that is consumed every day. Since Avocadoes are extremely high on calories, caution should be maintained and they should only be consumed in moderation.
Include Turmeric As A Part Of The Diet – Turmeric is a yellow colored spice which has traditionally been used for various disease conditions like inflammation, pain relief, and infections. Research also suggests that turmeric has properties which can lower the levels of bad cholesterol. However, the research has been done only on animals and its effect on humans is still to be tested and investigated even though it is postulated that the effcts of turmeric will be he same on humans as they were on the animals.
Exercise on a Regular Basis – It is essential to get in some sort of physical activity on a daily basis, whether it is playing a sport or going to the gym. It is absolutely mandatory to take care of your body in order to maintain overall functionality of the body.
Many people end up having adverse effects of high cholesterol levels due to their poor diet and lifestyle. People should understand that all these complications can be prevented if proper diet and lifestyle measures are taken. Being active is just the best way to not only stay fit but to do away with conditions like high cholesterol.