Fats or lipids in blood include cholesterol and triglycerides. Our bodies need a certain amount of cholesterol, but when there are too many fats in the blood (hyperlipidaemia), fatty deposits start to build up in the arteries, increasing the risks of heart attacks and strokes.
Cholesterol cannot dissolve in blood, so it needs “carrier” protein to transport it around the body. The carrier protein is called ‘lipoproteins.’ There are 2 main kinds:
- High- density lipoprotein (HDL): When Cholesterol is carried by HDL, it’s called HDL cholesterol. This is the “good cholesterol” and reduces the risk of heart diseases and strokes.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): When Cholesterol is carried by LDL, it is called LDL cholesterol. This is “bad cholesterol” and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes
Current recommended blood fat levels (European guidelines):
Total Cholesterol : Less than 5.0 mmol/l (190mg/dl)
LDL- Cholesterol : Less than 3.0 mmol/l (115 mg/dl)
HDL- Cholesterol : More than 1.0 mmol/l (40 mg/dl) in men / More than 1.2 mmol/l (46 mg/dl) in women
Triglycerides (fasting) : Less than 1.7 mmol/l / (150 mg/dl)
Causes of high blood fat levels
High cholesterol levels may run in some families. However, high blood fat level is also caused by an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. High blood fat levels rarely produce symptoms or warning signs. To check your blood fat levels, ask your doctor for a simple blood test. In some cases, a high blood fat level may be associated with an undiagnosed medical condition, like diabetes.
What to do if you have high blood fat levels
- Eat a healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in animal fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Stay active.