Ask the Nurse

Recent blood work revealed that my HDL is low. My new primary care physician seemed unconcerned. What can I do to raise my HDL level? My long time physician recently retired and scheduled blood work for me every three months. My new primary care physician is scheduling only every six months or 12 months. I am 80-years-old and get fairly good reports although my triglycerides and cholesterol are slightly elevated. Should I be concerned about this?

Cholesterol testing should be done every 5 years for women, starting at age 45 or sooner if you are overweight, have hypertenion or diabetes or family history of heart disease.

All the indices are important: the LDL, HDL and triglycerides. Triglycerides should be less than 150 and HDL should be above 60. LDL goals depend on your medical and family history. (but generally the lower the LDL the better)

Some studies show that routine exercise can raise HDL (however evidence is mixed) and alcohol in moderation (less than 7 drinks per week for women) can raise HDL. Certain statins (cholesterol medications) can raise HDL slightly and niacin (also a cholesterol medication) can raise HDL. Speak to your physician if these are right for you. Routinely cholesterol is checked every 6-12 months but can be checked more frequently if you start medication or do intense lifestyle modification.

All My Best,
Speaking of Women's Health Nurse

August 23, 2011 at 5:27pm