High cholesterol is usually discovered on routine screening and has no symptoms. It is more common if you have a family history of it, but lifestyle factors (such as eating a diet high in saturated fat) clearly play a major role.
If you have a routine blood test during a physical exam or while attending a health fair or screening at a shopping center, your blood may reveal a high total cholesterol level, which would require further testing to determine your LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels (this is known as a lipid panel).
The National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines suggest that everyone aged 20 years and older should have their blood cholesterol level measured at least once every 5 years. It is best to have a blood test called a lipoprotein profile to find out your cholesterol numbers. This blood test is done after a 9- to 12-hour fast and gives information about the following items:
If you have high lipoproteins and thus high cholesterol, your doctor will work with you to target your levels with dietary and drug treatment. Depending on your risk factors for heart disease, your target goals may differ for lowering your LDL cholesterol.
Adoption of a healthier lifestyle, including aerobic exercise and a low-fat diet, should reduce the prevalence of obesity, high cholesterol, and, ultimately, the risk of coronary heart disease.
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