Center for Women’s Heart Care
Explaining Your Cholesterol
We do not closely follow the total cholesterol
Triglycerides (TG’s) are a form of fat that
number. This is because it doesn’t give as
can be made in your body or come from the
much information as the individual parts of
food you eat. People who are overweight or
the cholesterol panel—the HDL, LDL, and
have diabetes often have higher triglycerides.
Triglyceride counts are not accurate if your blood was drawn non-fasting (i.e., if you had eaten within eight hours of the test). It is not
The HDL is the good type of cholesterol. It is
fully understood yet what role triglycerides play
also known as high density lipoprotein. It is
believed that the HDL helps protect us from heart attacks and artery blockages by carrying
· Generally, it is felt that lower triglycerides are
bad cholesterol back to the liver, where it
better, but there is not as much evidence to
support that aggressively treating the TG’s with medications substantially lowers your risk
· Generally it is believed that the higher the
HDL, the lower the risk for heart disease.
· Ideal y, fasting TG’s should be less than
· A HDL of greater than 60mg/dL is considered
high (good), and less than 40mg/dL is considered low (bad).
· You can lower your triglyceride level by getting
regular exercise, losing weight, and avoiding
· You can raise the HDL by exercise, and with
simple starches like breads, pasta, rice, and
some medications such as gemﬁbrozil/Lopid,
sugar. If you are diabetic, keeping your blood
sugar under control will also lower the TG level. Sometimes we don’t treat the TG’s until
The LDL is the bad type of cholesterol, also
they are signiﬁcantly higher than 150mg/dL.
known as low density lipoprotein. It can slowly
In some cases we elect to start a medication
build up on the linings of the arteries, and
to lower the TG’s. These medications include:
together with other substances form plaque
Tricor/fenoﬁbrate, Lopid/gemﬁbrozil, niacin, or
· The higher the LDL, the higher a person’s risk
· General y, LDL should be less than 70-80mg/dL
for people with known heart disease (blockages),
It is important to remember that while you
peripheral vascular disease, or cerebrovascular
are on a cholesterol medication, you should
disease and less than 130mg/dL in people
report any muscle aches to your care provider.
without heart disease. We may set a slightly
On rare occasions, these medications cause
different goal for you depending on your risk for
Shortly after starting a cholesterol medication
· Weight loss, dietary changes, and medications
you should have a liver blood test performed.
(like Zocor/simvastatin, Lipitor/atorvastatin,
This is usually done in the ﬁrst six to twelve
Mevacor/lovastatin, Zetia/ezetimibe, Crestor/rosuvastatin) all act to block the generation of LDL (lowering LDL).
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