Your check-up – cholesterol

Posted on 8 January 2013

A routine check-up is quick and easy – and essential for your long-term health. We look at how investing a little time in your health today can add years to your future by taking one simple test.

Your body needs a little cholesterol to function properly. Because cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in blood it needs a protein carrier to ferry it around. The cholesterol-protein combination is called a lipoprotein.

Not all types of cholesterol are the same. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is good for you, but low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is not.

Why should I take the test?
High levels of cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. If too much of it, especially LDL cholesterol, floats around your blood, plaques form on the walls of your blood vessels. This can restrict and eventually block blood flow.

When should I take the test?
From the age of 20, have your fasting lipoprotein profile checked every five years. If you have a high total-cholesterol reading, or are older than 45, it’s best to monitor your cholesterol levels more often.

What can I expect during the test?
For a quick first screen, a blood sample is analysed using a portable meter. Total blood cholesterol and HDL cholesterol values are the most important. If these results raise concern, it’s best to have your fasting lipoprotein profile checked. A blood sample will be taken after you’ve fasted for about nine hours to measure the amount of total, LDL and HDL cholesterol, as well as a type of energy-rich fat called triglycerides in your blood.

What do my results mean?
A healthy result:
•   Total cholesterol of 5  (or 200 mg/100 mL) or lower
•   HDL of 1,5 mmol/L (or 60 mg/100 mL) or higher
•   LDL lower than 3 mmol/L (or 115 mg/100 mL)
•   Triglycerides of lower than 1,5 mmol/L (or 150 mg/100 mL)

Mediclinic offers screening facilities at all our hospitals. Click here to find one near you. If you have questions on this post, or any other medical matter, please comment below or visit our Facebook page.

The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Routine tests

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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