Lipid profile normal values

 

Lipid refers to the fatty substances that are present in the outer linings or membranes of the cells in animals as well as in the blood circulation. It is commonly referred to as cholesterol. Lipid in the blood occurs due to two reasons, i.e. liver production and dietary intake.

It is essential to keep the lipid levels within limits that do not pose any serious health issues. In case, an individual is at increased risk to developing cardiac diseases then that individual has to be more careful, particularly with the low-density lipoprotein or LDL levels or ‘bad’ lipid levels.

Types of cholesterol (lipid)

A build up of low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol inside the walls of the arteries can lead to clogging of the arteries, eventually resulting in heart attacks. Therefore, increased levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk to developing heart conditions.

On the other hand, high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol is known as the ‘good’ lipid or cholesterol. This is because HDL cholesterol helps in the prevention of artery blockage. Therefore increased levels of HDL cholesterol are generally related to lowered risk to developing heart ailments.

A lipid profile or a lipid panel is a type of blood test that is used to check the levels of cholesterol in the blood.  A lipid profile typically indicates the following:

  • HDL cholesterol
  • Total cholesterol
  • Triglycerides, which is a type of fat that is usually increased by alcohol and sweets
  • LDL cholesterol

Before a lipid profile test, it is advisable to not drink or eat anything other than water for nine to twelve hours. This is to obtain the best possible and most accurate results from the blood sample.

Since research studies have proven the fact that the LDL cholesterol levels are responsible for increased risk to heart diseases, most treatments are focused on lowering the LDL cholesterol or lipid levels. However, the individual LDL cholesterol targets may differ as per the individual’s differences in the underlying risks to heart disease.

  • The lipid profile normal values or the LDL cholesterol values for most individuals should be below 130 mg/dL i.e. milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood OR 3.4 mmol/L i.e. millimoles (mmol) of cholesterol per liter (L) of blood.
  • For individuals with other risk factors for heart disease, the target LDL cholesterol tends to be below 100 mg/dL OR 2.6 mmol/L
  • In case of individuals with a very high risk factor for heart diseases, the target LDL cholesterol tends to be below 70 mg/dL OR 1.8 mmol/L. Thus, lower the LDL cholesterol levels the better it is for all individuals.

A person is considered to be at an elevated risk to heart disease in the following cases:

  • When the individual has a history of a cardiac attack or a stroke
  • When the individual has the carotid artery disease or artery blockages in the neck
  • When the individual has the peripheral artery disease or artery blockages in the arms or legs

Additionally, the presence of any two or more risk factors mentioned below may also place an individual in the very high risk group:

  • A family history of premature heart diseases
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Low levels of HDL cholesterol
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • An increased age of forty five years or above for men and fifty five years or above for women
  • Elevated lipoprotein (a) which is another type of fat or lipid in the blood

Interpretation of the lipid profile values or the cholesterol numbers

  • In the United States as well as some other countries, the cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood.
  • In most European countries as well as Canada, the cholesterol levels are measured in millimoles (mmol) of cholesterol per liter (L) of blood.

These guidelines have to be considered after an individual gets the lipid profile/lipid panel or cholesterol test results in order to determine if the lipid levels fall within the target range.

As per Mayo Clinic, the following details can assist an individual in reading a lipid profile report.

Total cholesterol

U.S. and some other countries Canada and most of Europe
Below 200 mg/dL Below 5.2 mmol/L Desirable
200-239 mg/dL 5.2-6.2 mmol/L Borderline high
240 mg/dL and above Above 6.2 mmol/L High

 

LDL cholesterol

U.S. and some other countries Canada and most of Europe
Below 70 mg/dL Below 1.8 mmol/L Ideal for people at very high risk of heart disease
Below 100 mg/dL Below 2.6 mmol/L Ideal for people at risk of heart disease
100-129 mg/dL 2.6-3.3 mmol/L Near ideal
130-159 mg/dL 3.4-4.1 mmol/L Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL 4.1-4.9 mmol/L High
190 mg/dL and above Above 4.9 mmol/L Very high

 

HDL cholesterol

U.S. and some other countries Canada and most of Europe
Below 40 mg/dL (men)
Below 50 mg/dL (women)
Below 1 mmol/L (men)
Below 1.3 mmol/L (women)
Poor
50-59 mg/dL 1.3-1.5 mmol/L Better
60 mg/dL and above Above 1.5 mmol/L Best

 

Triglycerides

U.S. and some other countries Canada and most of Europe
Below 150 mg/dL Below 1.7 mmol/L Desirable
150-199 mg/dL 1.7-2.2 mmol/L Borderline high
200-499 mg/dL 2.3-5.6 mmol/L High
500 mg/dL and above Above 5.6 mmol/L Very high

Treatment of  abnormal lipid levels

  • Treatment to attain the desired levels of cholesterol inculcates lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercise and losing excess weight as well as dietary changes that include less intake of fat and cholesterol from meat or dairy products and more intake of soluble fibers that can be found in fruits and vegetables.
  • In severe cases, medications such as statins may be prescribed by doctors to bring down the elevated levels of lipid or cholesterol.

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