Cholesterol — For Healthy Heart and Blood Vessels
By Wil Dubois
A super-quick review for those of you who snuck into this article from the back door: we dFolk are bombarded with numbers, goals, and targets. We're frequently told where we should be, but not how high our risk is when we can't reach our targets. In this series of discussions we look at all of our important numbers and break them down into a simple green light, yellow light, red light format to put all of your critical numbers into a useful context. To give you perspective on when and how much to worry. When to relax, when to call your doc, and when to call 911.
Cholesterol can give you a headache. No, not the actual cholesterol itself. I'm talking about wrapping your head around all of the numbers. You see, there are four different scores to keep track of, all of which can affect the others. Oh. And the targets are different for chicks and dudes. And on top of all that, the targets are different still depending on how risky the gene pool you're swimming in is. So hang on tight, take a Tylenol, and I'll try to make this as clear as I can.
Your medical team determines your various cholesterol numbers by running a blood test called a Lipid Panel. Now, not all cholesterol is created equal. Like a cheesy B&W western, some lipids wear white hats and others wear black hats. Yep. Welcome to Cholesterol Bonanza.
Green light cholesterol score
The official target for total cholesterol for people with diabetes is less than 200. Our green light range is funky because there's really no such thing as having cholesterol that's too good. Many experts in this field just go with "the lower the better."
Yellow light cholesterol score
Your yellow light cholesterol range is between 200 and 239.
Red light cholesterol score
Your red light total cholesterol is anything above 240. Total cholesterol in the red zone doubles your risk of coronary heart disease, compared to someone in the green zone. Yeah. Doubles.
Called "Trigs" by their friends, triglycerides are fats that float around in your blood, and like the rest of the lipid family, have a major role to play in heart attack risks.
Green light triglyceride range
Anything under 150 mg/dL on your trigs will make your doc smile.
Yellow light triglyceride range.
The yellow light range for trigs is between 150 and 199.
Red light triglyceride range
The red light range for trigs is 200 to 499, with a special double red light category reserved for any score over 500.
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...