If you have been having heart disease symptoms your doctor may test your cholesterol levels. If your levels are high, your doctor may diagnose hypercholesterolemia. You will probably be somewhat confused at first by all the numbers your doctor quotes at you. The numbers contained in reports, and scattered everywhere in research articles may not make a lot of sense at first.
A normal total cholesterol level is under 200 mg/dL.
This means that there are less than 200 mg of cholesterol (about 0.007 ounces) in one deciliter (one tenth of a liter, or about 0.42 cups) of blood. A cholesterol count of between 200 and 239 mg/dL is borderline high, with anything over 240 mg/dL considered high.
Total Cholesterol Count
Now, that was the total cholesterol count.
Your blood test results, though, will separate the cholesterol counts into two types of cholesterol – LDL, or bad cholesterol, and HDL, or good cholesterol.
Doctors believe that high levels (above 190 mg.dL) of LDL are very bad. Low levels (below 40 mg/dL) of HDL are also considered very bad.
Do not confuse cholesterol test results with actual heart disease symptoms.
In North America, about 25% of adults over the age of 45 are taking statin drugs. Statistics show, that statin drugs do lower cholesterol levels. They do this by preventing your liver from making cholesterol. Still, they do not appear to have a significant effect on the rate of heart disease.
Cholesterol Symptoms does justify Panic
In terms of absolute risk, one person out of 100 taking statin drugs will have one less heart attack.
The drug industry is adept at manipulating statistics, though, so they recommend that we look at “relative risk” which means that all of a sudden, statin drugs benefit 30 to 50% of the population.
Statistics are amazing, aren’t they?
Another set of numbers that is very pertinent to the discussion of cholesterol levels are the profit margins of large pharmaceutical companies.
Statins are the most widely prescribed drugs in medical history. The profits from sales of the drugs are obscene.
Total sales in 2010 topped $35 billion US.
This explains why the drugs are still so widely prescribed, even though the rates of heart disease have not changed appreciably since statin drugs came on the market.