One of the health benefits of being a regular blood donor is receiving a cholesterol screening every time you give to help others live. There is both HDL (High Density Lipoproteins) cholesterol and LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) cholesterol in your blood.
The cholesterol screening OneBlood provides is a combination of both the ‘good’ HDL and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol present in your blood stream at the time you donate. Whereas it is not a diagnostic test done with fasting, it is a good indicator if you need to be concerned about a high level and seek medical follow up.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered desirable for adults. A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high. LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.”
This is why, if your OneBlood cholesterol screening shows an elevated level, you should have a fasting cholesterol test performed by your doctor to determine your actual LDL/HDL ratio. Too much LDL cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Our bodies need cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, digestive fluids and nerve cells among others. Your liver makes all of the cholesterol your body needs, but the foods you eat and possible genetic factors that determine how you metabolize them, can add to the cholesterol levels in your body. Some people may need medication to control their high cholesterol, but everyone can benefit by making some lifestyle changes.
The Mayo Clinic Staff states that the same heart-healthy lifestyle changes that can lower your cholesterol can help prevent you from having high cholesterol in the first place. To help prevent high cholesterol, you can:
• Eat a low-salt diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
• Limit the number of animal fats and use good fats in moderation
• Lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight
• Quit smoking
• Exercise on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes
• Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
• Manage stress
Having high cholesterol is fairly common, so there are no restrictions on giving blood, even if you take medication to control it. Donors have ‘Shared Their Story’ with us of having given blood and discovered they had extremely high cholesterol levels that they did not know they had.
They wrote to thank us for helping to save their own lives when they went to help others. That is one more reason OneBlood encourages eligible donors to give blood regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle, because it is a simple way to monitor your cholesterol level.