How serious is my cholesterol level sitting at 5.5 mmol/L

by Shirley Lakey
(Johannesburg GP)

I have recently found out that my cholesterol level is sitting at 5.5. Is it serious enough to resort to cholesterol drugs or can I attempt to get it down "naturally"?


Answer


Hello dear Madam,

For a more accurate analysis of your condition, we need to know the numbers of your LDL- cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol level. Please send them in, if possible.

In me meantime, we are giving you a general advice based on the information we have.
Cholesterol numbers are classified :

1. Normal cholesterol level :- under 5mmol/L ( under 200mg/dl)
-under 4mmol/L for those with high risk
2. Borderline cholesterol: levels between 5 -7.5mmol/L

3.High cholesterol levels: above 7.5mmol/L

Your cholesterol number is classified as border- line, which means it is above the normal range, but not quite in the high range yet.

We recommend you make some lifestyle changes in order to lower your cholesterol down to the normal ranges. The lifestyle changes you need to make are as following:

1. Loosing weight- if overweight, losing weight is necessary. It would help in decreasing your cholesterol levels. Losing only 5% of your weight would significantly improve your cholesterol level

2. Exercising- Do not do a sedentary life. Exercising not only lowers your total cholesterol and LDL levels, but it also increases HDL levels, which is known as “good cholesterol”. Regular exercising stimulates blood circulation which promotes heart health.

Exercising 30-60 minutes per day is enough. You might consider walking, swimming, playing your favorite sport etc

3. Quitting smoking- If you are a smoker, quitting it is necessary.

4. Dietary changes- Dietary changes are a crucial compound of your lifestyle changes in the attempt to lower your cholesterol numbers. Dietary changes include:

a. Reducing the daily intake of cholesterol in only 300 mg or less

b. Reducing the intake of saturated fats (found mostly in meat and dairy products) to only 7% of your daily calories. They increase your LDL and cholesterol levels. Consume monounsaturated fats instead( found in olive and canola oil).

c. Try not to consume products containing trans fats- trans fats are found in almost every fast-food, in commercially packed products ( snacks, crackers, cookies etc). They decrease your HDL level and increase LDL and cholesterol

d. Consume fiber-rich products- Fiber helps in lowering LDL levels and increasing HLD. It also improves stimulation. All vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are rich in fibers.

e. Consume some cholesterol lowering supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids, green tea extract, Artichoke extract, Flaxseed, Oat bran etc.

In case this lifestyle changes fail to lower your cholesterol levels, you might consider talking to your doctor about starting cholesterol- lowering meds.

Dr Alba

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