Question: Please provide an example to review cholesterol ratios in women. Is it sufficient to know one’s HDL and LDL levels and not worry about total cholesterol? Do Triglyceride levels really help to determine a woman’s heart disease risk?
Cholesterol Levels in Women
Let us consider an example of wherein the total cholesterol reading of woman is 250mg/dL, then the HDL should be 50mg/dL to belong to the recommended safe zone ratio 6:1. If the LDL is 140mg/dL, then HDL should be 35mg/dL or higher to belong to the safe zone of 4:1.
HDL and LDL Ratio in Women
It is not sufficient to only know HDL and LDL levels. One study pointed that even women under the age of fifty with highest total cholesterol were most likely to develop heart disease. So it is necessary to know all cholesterol levels. Until a more accurate and conclusive data on women and heart disease is available experts advise to keep total cholesterol below 200mg/dL irrespective of the gender. This involves weight management and avoiding smoking; exercising and reducing high-fat food in the diet. Smoking in women reduces estrogen levels, raises LDL, lowers HDL and influences the onset of early menopause.It shifts the body-fat distribution to ones waistline and creates an apple shaped body which is associated with higher LDL. Thereby smoking is very harmful.
The link of triglyceride with heart disease is stronger in women than it is in men. Triglycerides and HDL also seem to be associated. Both the lipids are affected by estrogen. When estrogen levels fall after menopause HDL levels also drop sharply and triglyceride rise, which is bad. But when women take synthetic estrogen HDL levels rise, but so do Triglyceride levels. Some Researchers believe that synthetic estrogen (HRT) may affect and reduce HDL ability to remove cholesterol.
Some experts feel that high triglycerides indicate an underlying problem in processing blood fats, possibly due to diabetes, estrogen preparations or other medications which increase a person’s risk of coronary heart disease. So, surely high triglyceride levels above 190mg/dL are successful predictors of heart disease especially in post-menopausal women, but not in men. In younger women, however the estrogen hormone may overcome any potential harm or produce a more harmless form of triglyceride.