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Serum cholesterol is a term that includes the total level of cholesterol that is found in the bloodstream. Measuring the level of total cholesterol includes identifying all types or classes of cholesterol that are found in the system. This helpful measurement makes it possible to determine if the balance between the HDL or good cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol is within acceptable limits.
While tracking the HDL and LDL levels are part of what goes into a serum cholesterol evaluation, they are not the only factors considered. This measurement also involves identifying the current level of Very Low Density lipoprotein content, as well as the Intermediate Density lipoprotein levels. These readings, along with the LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, help to provide a complete picture of the lipids and proteins currently present in the body.
Over time, breaking down the various components that make up the serum cholesterol reading has helped physicians to identify a number of potential health problems and treat them before they become a problem. While the presence of good cholesterol is beneficial to maintaining organ health and providing the body with necessary energy, the presence of bad cholesterol can lead to blockages that may lead to problems with the heart and lungs. For this reason, the medical community has developed standards for what is considered a healthy level of good cholesterol as well as guidelines for what constitutes an excessive amount of bad cholesterol in the blood.
Overall, the total serum cholesterol is not expected to be over 200 milligrams for each deciliter of blood in the system. The bad cholesterol should not make up more than half of that amount. Ideally, many doctors prefer that the ration between good and bad cholesterol be more along the lines of two to one, with the bloodstream containing twice the amount of good cholesterol when compared to the amount of bad cholesterol present.
Simple bloodwork from time to time helps the physician to monitor cholesterol levels in the body and identify trends that can often be corrected with diet. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe medication that is formulated to lower bad cholesterol while promoting the production of good cholesterol. Because the serum cholesterol reading contains a breakdown of all classes of cholesterol present, and the current milligram per deciliter ratio present, it is possible to deal with high cholesterol before major health issues develop.