CHOLESTEROL 3 Diagnosis Having high cholesterol will not produce symptoms.Therefore, the only way to determine if you have high cholesterol is by having your doctor check your cholesterol levels. One of the most common ways to determine cholesterol levels is with a simple blood test. The test measures cholesterol and triglycerides that are circulating in your blood. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. Similar to cholesterol, if triglycerides become elevated, you may be at an increased risk of heart disease. The blood cholesterol test measures both low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.The reason both types are important is because only LDL cholesterol is bad. HDL cholesterol is considered “good” because it transports excess cholesterol to the liver for metabolism and elimination from the body.The reason LDL cholesterol is considered bad is because it sticks more easily to the arterial wall and can contribute to plaque formation. Until recently, physicians were advised to treat patients with higher-than-normal cholesterol based on the following values:Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dl, and LDL should be less than 130 mg/dl. HDL should be greater than 40 mg/dl. Patients were considered to have high cholesterol if total cholesterol was 240 mg/dl or higher.An LDL of more than 160 mg/dl and an HDL below 40 mg/dl were considered high risk. Lower LDL targets (as low as 70 mg/dl) were considered appropriate for people who have either suffered a heart attack or are at very high risk of experiencing heart problems. The newest heart disease and stroke prevention guidelines for doctors, released in 2013, urges the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins in: • people without cardiovascular disease who are 40 to 75 years old with a 7.5 percent or higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years. • people with a history of a cardiovascular event. • adults with a very high LDL level. • people age 40 to 75 with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. This will likely radically raise the number of people taking statin drugs. Oxidation And Your Heart According to groundbreaking researcher Kilmer McCully, MD, high cholesterol levels alone do not cause heart disease. “When it [cholesterol] is taken up into the arterial wall, it becomes oxidized or modified, and it has damaging effects on cells in the arterial wall,” says McCully. Homocysteine is one reason why cholesterol may build up in the artery to dangerous levels. Homocysteine is a nonessential amino acid that results from a deficiency of three B vitamins: B6, B12, and folic acid. Some researchers believe high homocysteine poses a greater risk for heart disease than high blood pressure, smoking, or high cholesterol. CHOLESTEROL 3