Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Elevated Choleterol 101

The following was posted by Lee Kirksey, M.D. and excerpted from Medhelp where he moderates the Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) forum:

What can cause high cholesterol?

Elevated cholesterol levels can be caused by several factors, including heredity, poor diet, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, age, and gender (premenopausal women have lower cholesterol levels than men.) Of these causative factors, only heredity, age and gender cannot be controlled.

"Secondary" elevation of cholesterol

Some people have elevated cholesterol levels as a result of specific medical conditions, including diabetes, hypothyroidism (low thyroid,) obstructive liver disease, chronic renal (kidney) failure, and drugs (anabolic steroids, progesterone drugs, and corticosteroids.) In these patients, treating the underlying disorder often improves cholesterol levels.

Who needs to be treated for elevated cholesterol?

Deciding when to treat can be based on two factors: lipid levels (total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL,) and the presence of additional risk factors, as follows.

Desirable lipid levels:
Total cholesterol: Desirable levels are below 200 mg/dL. Total cholesterol is considered "borderline high risk" at levels between 200 and 239, and "high risk" at levels above 240. LDL cholesterol: Optimal LDL levels are less than 100 mg/dL. Near optimal levels are between 100 and 129 mg/dL. Levels between 130 and 159 are considered "borderline high risk;" and levels between 160 and 189 are considered "high-risk;" and levels of 190 and above are considered "very high risk." HDL cholesterol: HDL cholesterol levels below 41 mg/dL are considered too low.

The full text of his journal entry may be found here

(Dr Kirksey is a vascular surgeon at The University of Pennsylvania Healthcare System who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, medical and surgical treatment of blood vessel disorders of the body.)

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