Cholesterol

You can maintain the health of your heart by looking after the level of lipids in your blood. High cholesterol is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. It is recommended to start the regular monitoring of cholesterol values and set the monitoring interval with a doctor approximately at the age of 40.

Cholesterol test

In addition to the total cholesterol level, the cholesterol test provides detailed information of the levels of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride in blood.

You can have a sample taken without a referral or an appointment. You do not have to remain without food prior to the test as, according to latest studies, samples taken without fasting provide the most accurate information about the risk of the onset of diseases. For more information, please contact our customer service at 010 414 00 (0,084 €/min) or our outpatient clinics.

The lipid or blood fat panel includes the following analyses:

  • P-Kol total cholesterol
  • P-Kol-HDL “good” cholesterol
  • P-Kol-LDL “bad” cholesterol
  • P-Trigly Triglycerides
  • Non-HDL - includes all bad cholesterol in blood
  • Kol/HDL ratio

Cholesterol levels

The recommended levels of cholesterol and its various forms are displayed as recommendation or reference ranges in the results sheet. The level of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides should be below the upper limit of the reference range, and the level of HDL cholesterol, which protects the arteries, should be higher than the lower limit of the reference range.

  • 3.5–5.0 mmol/l Ideal
  • 5.1–5.9 mmol/l Good
  • 6.0–6.9 mmol/l Slightly elevated
  • 7.0–7.9 mmol/l Elevated
  • above 8.0 mmol/l Significantly elevated

Book an appointment for a laboratory test 

High or elevated cholesterol

Excessively high bad or LDL cholesterol can cause an occlusion in the arteries, which may lead to a thrombosis in the heart or brain. The majority of cholesterol is “bad” LDL cholesterol. Correspondingly, the good HDL cholesterol can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. The cholesterol test provides quite accurate information about the levels of good and bad cholesterols.

The ideal level of bad cholesterol is below 3.0 mmol/l the ideal level of good cholesterol for men and women is above 1.0 mmol/l and 1.20 mmol/l, respectively.

Good cholesterol and bad cholesterol

Cholesterols are divided into “good” and “bad” cholesterols.

The quality of nutrition does not have a direct effect on the level of good HDL cholesterol. Instead, ways of life have an effect on the level of HDL. For instance, failing to exercise properly, abdominal obesity and the resulting fatty liver disease lower the level of HDL cholesterol, which, in turn, increases the risk of atherosclerosis. In addition, smoking also lowers the level of HDL cholesterol. The level of good cholesterol can be raised by exercising more and quitting smoking.

Non-HDL cholesterol indicates the overall level of harmful fats. The difference between LDL cholesterol is quite small in healthy individuals, but for people with diabetes or abdominal obesity, for example, non-HDL provides valuable additional information on the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In these groups, LDL often looks "too good" and monitoring total or LDL cholesterol alone often leads to an underestimation of the risk of diseases.

The target range for non-HDL cholesterol for different risk groups is 0.8 mmol/l higher than the corresponding LDL cholesterol levels, i.e. <3.0 mmol/l for LDL cholesterol, <3.8 mmol/l for non-HDL cholesterol.

Learn more: expert article on the effects of high cholesterol on arterial diseases (in Finnish)

Lowering cholesterol levels

Cholesterol levels can be lowered by making certain changes in the diet and ways of life. Particular attention must be paid to the quality and amount of fats, the level of cholesterol contained in the diet and the amount of dietary fibre.

Healthy ways of life, such as exercising sufficiently, are effective ways of lowering cholesterol. Exercising has an effect on the level of HDL cholesterol in blood and helps lose weight.

If changes in the diet and ways of life do not provide an ideal outcome, cholesterol can also be lowered with a medication. Have a discussion with your doctor to determine the best option for you.

Lowering cholesterol levels through diet

High cholesterol levels are primarily explained by genetics, but observing a healthy diet and adopting certain ways of life can have an effect on these levels. The level of dietary cholesterol is especially dependent on the quality of fats included in the diet. Saturated or “hard” fats typically have adverse effects, whereas non-saturated or “soft” fats have beneficial effects. Dairy fats contain lots of hard fats. The amount of hard fats in vegetable oils is low, and they mostly contain soft fats. For example, rapeseed oil includes only 5% of saturated fat.

Read more about lifestyles, nutrition and exercise:

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