Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is vital for the normal functioning of the body. In the blood, cholesterol is transported in the form of lipoprotein complexes (HDL and LDL). Total cholesterol is a measure of the total amount in the blood, including all the different cholesterol components.
Increased cholesterol levels may have a negative impact on health. High cholesterol has no symptoms per se. It does, however, rise the risk of vessel conclusion and heart disease. Therefore, cholesterol levels can be used to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease but should be interpreted in the presence of the cholesterol components listed below.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) carries excess cholesterol from the body’s periphery to the liver, where it can be cleared. Therefore, HDL is sometimes referred to as “good cholesterol”. The higher your levels of HDL the lower the risk of developing arteriosclerotic diseases.
Low HDL cholesterol puts you at higher risk for heart disease. Overweight can be a key factor leading to (too) low HDL cholesterol levels. Other factors associated with low HDL are e.g., type 2 diabetes, smoking, being sedentary, and genetic predisposition.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) transports cholesterol from the liver to the body’s periphery. As it can deposit in arteries, it is generally considered the “bad cholesterol”. However, levels within the normal range are considered good for heart health.
If there is too much cholesterol for the cells to use, it can build up in the artery walls, leading to a higher risk of arteriosclerotic diseases and may result in serious heart and vascular problems.
Triglycerides are the primary form of fat and play a major role as an energy source. They circulate in the bloodstream either to provide energy for the cells or to be stored in adipose tissue throughout the body for future energy requirements. Triglyceride levels are usually lowest after fasting and highest after eating.
Increased levels are indicative of a metabolic abnormality and tend to be more common in people with low thyroid levels or poorly controlled diabetes. Along with elevated cholesterol, increased triglyceride levels are considered a risk factor for atherosclerotic disease. Also, elevated levels of estrogen or corticosteroids caused by medication or hormonal imbalances are sources of high blood levels of triglycerides that may raise the risk of vessel conclusion and heart disease.
Hemoglobin (Hb) is a protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all body parts. Glucose (sugar) can attach itself permanently to hemoglobin forming glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c). The rate of this formation is proportional to the blood glucose concentrations. HbA1c levels are reflective of blood glucose levels over the past six to eight weeks and do not reflect daily ups and downs of blood glucose.
Slightly increased HbA1c levels indicate increased a risk of developing diabetes in the future (prediabetes). High HbA1c levels indicate a very poor control of blood glucose. The problem with high blood sugar levels is, that often there are no symptoms at all. Your sugar can be high for a while and you may not even know it. When your blood sugar stays high for longer periods of time though, you may feel tired and might have less energy. You might also feel very thirsty and drink a lot, leading to you peeing more than normal and waking a lot in the middle of the night. Another long-term symptom is that cuts or sores take a long time to heal or do not heal well at all.
Ways to lower your HbA1c levels may consist of dietary modifications, physical activity, or medications. The best way is to talk your results over with your doctor or nutritionist to receive a personal treatment plan.
The clinical relevance of low HbA1C values remains unclear. However, recent studies suggest that there may be a threshold below which HbA1c is associated with an increased all-cause mortality risk among persons without diabetes.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is released into the blood by the liver in response to any kind of inflammation. Its level rises and falls rapidly after worsening or improvement of the inflammatory situation, making it a useful marker for monitoring disease activity. The high-sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP) assay is more precise than conventional CRP tests when measuring extremely low CRP levels.
A very low increase in CRP levels is observed in many chronic inflammation-related disorders that are also associated with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. However, elevated concentrations could also indicate early, mild, or resolving systemic inflammation.
A variety of conditions including acute bacterial and viral illnesses, rheumatic arthritis, and many other inflammatory diseases, are usually associated with increased levels. When CRP remains high, it is an indication of chronic systemic inflammation that is also associated with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Increases in CRP values would warrant further investigations and should not be interpreted without a complete clinical evaluation.