Many people refer to their cholesterol level and mention types of cholesterol such as HDL or LDL without understanding what those words actually mean. The serum cholesterol level takes both types of cholesterol into account and provides a measure that helps a doctor and patient determine where there are problems.
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Serum cholesterol refers to the total cholesterol level in a person's blood. It takes into account the amount of HDL cholesterol, also known as good cholesterol and LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, in the bloodstream.
An acceptable serum cholesterol level should not be higher than 200 mg in each decilitre of blood, and bad cholesterol should not make up any more than 50 per cent of that amount. For ideal health, the ratio should be twice as much HDL cholesterol as LDL cholesterol.
Knowing a person's serum cholesterol level helps to determine whether the balance between their HDL and LDL cholesterold levels are healthy or potentially problematic. Enough good cholesterol is needed to maintain a person's energy levels and good organ health, while too much bad cholesterol can cause blockages that may result in a heart attack or stroke.
If a person's serum cholesterol level indicates that there is a potential problem, his doctor can prescribe appropriate treatment. This might include lifestyle modifications such as exercise and diet changes or medication.
Problems with a person's serum cholesterol level can often be avoided through avoiding dietary fats and exercising regularly. However, genetics also play a role in cholesterol level. If a healthy serum cholesterol level cannot be maintained by a healthy lifestyle, medication may be necessary.
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