There are four tests usually given to help discover a patient’s susceptibility to arterial disease and heart attack. These standard cholesterol tests measure blood fats or lipids and include the following:
- total cholesterol
- high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, also called “good” cholesterol;
- low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL, also called “bad” cholesterol,
- and triglycerides.
Elevated total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and depressed HDL cholesterol are known to clog arteries, while high levels of HDL cholesterol are believed to reduce risk of heart attack.
Regular aerobic exercise three days a week, even as little as 30 minutes each time, can raise HDL cholesterol, the desirable kind.
High triglyceride levels in the blood may indicate certain hereditary or dietary abnormalities in the body’s metabolism that may lead to atherosclerosis.
Eating too much food can cause the body to convert the food to fat and store it in the form of triglycerides. In fact, triglycerides are the body’s primary form of stored fat. They provide calories or energy to the body, but very high levels of triglycerides can lead to an inflammation of the pancreas. A triglyceride reading of less than 250, even less than 200 according to some healthcare providers, is desirable. Alcohol, diabetes, hypothyroidism or liver or kidney diseases also tend to increase triglyceride levels.
To learn more about the significance of blood fat or lipid levels or to assess your personal risk factors for heart disease, see your healthcare provider.