What you should know to avoid high cholesterol

Jerry Elprin

Family History

September 18, 2019

What you should know to avoid high cholesterol

High Cholesterol and Heart Disease Correlation


According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), more than 13 million American adults have coronary artery disease(CHD), and almost 500,000 die from it each year. One cause of CHD is high cholesterol. Someone once said “Experience is the hardest teacher. It gives you the test first and then the lessons.” Copying that format, I am sharing my high cholesterol–CHD experience and ending with the lessons and facts I learned.


In my own case, even though my cholesterol was “under control”, a stress test revealed a condition called Atherosclerosis – a buildup of plaque in arteries that limits the flow of blood and can cause angina, strokes and heart attacks. Despite not showing or feeling any other signs of heart disease, the cardiologist conducting the test recommended I have an “angioplasty” to clear the buildup. This procedure, which I had almost six years ago now, involves inserting a catheter with a deflated balloon attached to it into the bloodstream, finding the blockage and inflating the balloon to push the plaque to the sides of the artery. A stent was then inserted to help keep the artery open.  That, plus the addition of a couple more pills to prevent blood clots and help keep my blood pressure down has seemingly done the trick. (I also went through a cardiac rehab program of exercises and heart-health classes three days a week for three months following the angioplasty.)


Understand your Cholesterol: The Basics

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found all our cells. It helps the cells make hormones, vitamin D and other substances that help digest the food we eat. It’s also interesting to note that our bodies make all the cholesterol we need and that the cholesterol we consume in the foods we eat is simply extra. Cholesterol travels through our bodies in two types of “lipoproteins” – high-density (HDL) and low density (LDL). It’s the LDL cholesterol we think of as bad because high levels of it lead to a buildup of plaque in our arteries. The greater the level of LDL in our blood, the greater the risk of heart disease. Conversely, the higher the level of HDL cholesterol, the lower the risk.


Now for the Numbers.

According to my cheat sheet, which reflects a variety of sources (my doctor, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), the AARP and others),

  • Total cholesterol should be below 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL)
  • LDL cholesterol should be less than 100-130 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol should be higher than 40-60 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides (the most common form of fat in our bodies and also a risk for heart disease) should be no more than 150 mg/dL


To Avoid High Cholesterol

Here are guidelines from Mayo Clinic:
1) Consume your monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat intake; Avoid Trans Fats
2) Exercise
3) Maintain your weight
4) Don’t smoke
5) Drink alcohol in moderation
6) Choose supplements

As my experience taught me, it is important for you to talk to your doctor and use secure mobile health trackers to track your cholesterol levels and overall health. Cholesterol levels aren’t the only measure of your CHD risk. There’s also your weight, diet, fitness, and stress as well. Your doctor can help you create a health plan to lower cholesterol and lower your chances of a heart attack or cardiac disease.

Original Date: September 27, 2017