Knowing, and keeping on top of your total cholesterol levels is very important for every living adult. Not knowing your cholesterol levels can be dangerous, as the hazards which are linked with high cholesterol levels can strike very unexpectedly. Knowing where you stand with your cholesterol levels will let you prepare, maintain and even reduce your overall levels. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that all adults above the age of 20 should get their total cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years, and even every 3 years as you get older.
A fasting lipoprotein profile is simply a test done, which tells you the total levels of cholesterol in your blood stream at that particular moment in time. The reason it is called a ‘fasting’ profile is because the test must be done after a 9 to 12 hour fast. This is done to prevent any false readings, as any food or beverages can have a small impact on your cholesterol levels for a short amount of time, so having a reading when your levels are not at their base rate would be unreliable and pointless.
A 12 hour fast sounds hard right? But when you consider that most people visit their GP in the morning, that 12 hour fast just became a simpler, few hours fast, as we sleep around 8 hours per night anyway (well, we are supposed to!). So, unless you somehow eat in your sleep, your 12 hour fast just became a whole lot easier. Although no food should be consumed during your fast, it is recommended that you continue to drink plenty of regular water, as hydration is vital for your health, and water has no effect on your profile test results. Other beverages such as soda and fruit-juice should also be restricted during your fast.
A fasting lipoprotein profile, when carried out by your local doctor, will give you a few different numbers which you should keep note of. As well as your overall cholesterol, a fasting lipoprotein profile will show your total HDL levels, total LDL levels & triglyceride levels, giving you a more precise idea of where you need to change your lifestyle, if necessary! The test report will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL), so although your doctor will run through the conclusion of your test, it is good to know what those numbers mean:
Total cholesterol levels of sub 200 mg/dL are considered healthy, and your risk of coronary heart disease will be considered low. This is what we all should be aiming for.
Total cholesterol levels of between 200 – 239 mg/dL are considered borderline. Although your risk of heart disease is not particularly high, it is always better to try and stay below this figure.
Total cholesterol levels of anything above 239 mg/dL are considered high. A person with cholesterol levels this high are at twice as more risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke, than a person who has levels of less than 200 mg/dL. A lifestyle change should be put in place if your results prove you to fall in this category.
Obviously, these numbers are just a generalization, but to make your fasting lipoprotein profile more reliable, and suited for you, your GP will take into consideration your age, weight, gender, family history and your general lifestyle.