Your ideal cholesterol ratio takes into account the levels of HDL (good) and LDL (bad) and compares them to each other as well as the total amount in your blood. The reason why this is necessary is that the different components play very different roles in the formation and buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. Knowledge of their concentrations relative to one another and to the total present can provide a more accurate indication of a patient’s risk of developing heart disease.
What are cholesterol numbers?
Blood tests are able to distinguish between and measure the concentrations of three different types of cholesterol in the blood: LDL (low density lipoprotein), HDL (high density lipoprotein), and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein).
The concentration of each of these, measured in milligrams/deciliter, determines the corresponding numbers, and the total is equal to the sum of all three. Test results are often given in terms of a total number and a cholesterol ratio representing either Total/HDL or LDL/HDL.
Low-density LDL, commonly referred to as the “bad” type, is strongly linked to the development of cardiovascular disease. Elevated levels of both LDL and VLDL in the blood can lead to a buildup of plaque along artery walls, causing them over time to narrow and harden (this is called atherosclerosis).
The higher-density HDL, on the other hand, is able to pick up excess LDL and VLDL that have accumulated both in the blood and along arterial walls. For this service, we give it the name “good” cholesterol and as such it is one of the numbers we’d like to be as high as possible, thus making your Total/HDL and LDL/HDL cholesterol ratios as low as possible, and significantly lowering your risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Where Your Cholesterol Numbers Should Be
In order for patients to better understand their cholesterol profile results and maintain healthy levels, doctors have established the following guidelines:
For total cholesterol, less than 200 mg/dl is optimal, and the total level should be kept below 240 mg/dl to avoid the risk of heart disease.
For LDL, less than 100 mg/dl is optimal, and the total level should be kept below 160 mg/dl.
Finally, a healthy HDL level is set above 60 mg/dl, and should be kept above 40 mg/dl for men and above 50 mg/dl for women to prevent excessive accumulation in the blood and along the artery walls.
These guidelines can be used to determine healthy cholesterol ratios as well. For example, a patient with total cholesterol number 200, LDL number 100, and HDL number 60 has a Total/HDL cholesterol ratio of 200/60 and an LDL/HDL ratio of 100/60.
This gives an optimal Total/HDL ratio of about 3.3:1 and an optimal LDL/HDL ratio of about 1.7:1.
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Can prescription drugs maintain a healthy cholesterol ratio?
There are medications called statins that many doctors prescribe to their patients to lower their cholesterol levels. Some of the more popular ones are Lipitor, Zetia and Pravachol.
These drugs work by blocking the enzyme that the liver uses to manufacture cholesterol. However, the problem with these drugs is that while they can help reduce your LDL levels, they have almost no effect on HDL (good) cholesterol. Moreover, statins have been shown to deplete the body’s supply of a very important heart nutrient called CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This is an important compaund that is critical for proper functioning of your heart.
As such, natural cholesterol supplements might be a safer option for maintaining the proper cholesterol ratio. Many natural nutrients can not only lower LDL cholesterol, but can raise HDL and lower triglyceride buildup.
As with all health supplements, make sure you consult your doctor or other before taking any statins or natural cholesterol reducing products.