Know Your Cholesterol Numbers (Video)

Decoding your results

heart calculator

You got your cholesterol test results back—but still don’t understand what the numbers mean.

Find out what’s good, average and “needs improvement” through medications in this whiteboard session lead by Michael Rocco, MD, Medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Stress Testing at Cleveland Clinic.

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  • Diamond Fernandes

    Yes very important to know your numbers to prevent and control heart disease. Very important once you start a cardiac rehabilitation program. For the person who does not have heart disease it becomes important to focus on prevention focusing on lifestyle intervention to prevent heart disease risk.

  • Dick

    How can I increase my HDL number. My recent Numbers were LDL 72, HDL 36. I thought this was good but Dr. Rocco says that the HDL needs to be above 60. I exercise 5 days a week and try to keep my fat intake low while following a veggie diet plan.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Dr. Rocco stated: Higher HDL cholesterol measurements are associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Therefore an HDL-C above 60 has been classified as a “negative” risk factor. While higher is in general better, not all individuals can get their HDL-C in this range. But even small increases in HDL-C are associated with reductions in cardiovascular risk. In general, for every 1 mg/dL increase in HDL-C there is a 2 to 3 % decrease in cardiovascular disease risk.The million dollar question is how to best increase the the HDL-C in order to reduce risk.

      Very few medications are available to increase HDL-C significantly. Medications such as niacin can increase HDL-C by 20 to 25% but so far clinical trials examining its effect when added to first line treatment with statin medications (with LDL-C levels in the 60’s to low 70’s before adding niacin) have not demonstrated additional reduction in rate of heart attack, stroke or death. The best approach to increasing HDL-C should be healthy lifestyles. Investigational medications that raise HDL-C substantially are under investigation.

      In general dietary changes are associated with a 3 to 15% increase in HDL-C with an average 0.35 mg/dL increase in HDL for each 1 kg of weight loss. 120 to 180 minutes of aerobic exercise a week or discontinuation of smoking can each raise HDL-C by 5 to 10%. If you have a low HDL-C, the first thing to do is keep the LDL-C low by diet and exercise and use of statin medications when appropriate. Maintenance of an exercise program, ideal weight and not smoking can help raise HDL. Until further information is available, we cannot confirm that routine use of medications to raise isolated HDL-C will be beneficial although use of medications such as fibrates and niacin have a role in managing complex lipid abnormalities in some patients.