Cholesterol testing (or lipid testing) checks your levels of good and bad cholesterol to see if you need lifestyle changes or medicine to keep you healthy.
Cholesterol is a type of fat your body makes. There are different types of cholesterol. You need a small amount of cholesterol to make hormones and cells, but too much of the wrong kind of cholesterol can be bad for you.
High levels of the 'bad' cholesterol can clog up your blood vessels, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. Read more about cholesterol.
Understanding your cholesterol levels
New Zealand guidelines for blood cholesterol levels are as follows.
|Cholesterol: Acceptable range||What does this mean?|
|LDL: Less than 2.0 mmol/L||
|HDL: Greater than 1.0 mmol/L||
|Triglycerides: Less than 1.7 mmol/L||
|Total cholesterol: Less than 4.0 mmol/L||
|Total cholesterol/HDL ratio: Less than 4.0||
(British Heart Foundation, UK, 2018)
What does it mean if my cholesterol levels are high?
Your cholesterol levels give information about your overall health and your risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease, such as a heart attack or stroke.
Talk to your healthcare provider about your results. They will look at your other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as your age, gender, blood pressure and whether you smoke or have diabetes, before deciding what needs to happen next.
Stopping smoking, eating a healthier diet and being more active lower your risk of heart disease. If your risk is high enough, you might need to take medicines to lower your cholesterol levels.
|Dr Sharon Leitch is a general practitioner and Senior Lecturer in the Department of General Practice and Rural Health at the University of Otago. Her area of research is patient safety in primary care and safe medicine use.|