Your HDL Cholesterol Level

What Causes Low HDL Cholesterol Level?

Low HDL cholesterol level can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose low HDL cholesterol level, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "low HDL cholesterol level" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • A Weight Problem
  • Diabetes II
  • Overtraining
  • Atherosclerosis
  • High LDL/HDL Ratio
  • Birth Control Pill Issues
  • Heart Disease
  • Hypothyroidism

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
long-term low-carb dieting
tonsils/adenoids out before age 20
male pattern hair loss
being anxious/nervous
history of heart attacks
difficulty losing weight
having high percentage body fat
long menstrual cycles
major swelling at front of neck
high LDL cholesterol level
severe vision disturbances
slow reaction time
... and more than 110 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of low HDL cholesterol level:
Cause Probability Status
Overtraining 91% Confirm
High LDL/HDL Ratio 14% Unlikely
Diabetes II 13% Unlikely
A Weight Problem 1% Ruled out
Birth Control Pill Issues 0% Ruled out
Hypothyroidism 0% Ruled out
Heart Disease 0% Ruled out
Atherosclerosis 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having had recent lab tests, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Cholesterol, HDL. What is your fasting HDL cholesterol level? Unit: mg/dL [mmol/L]
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ Under 21 [0.54]
→ 21 to 35 [0.54-0.92]
→ 36 to 60 [0.93-1.55] (normal)
→ Over 60 [1.55]
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate very low HDL cholesterol level, low HDL cholesterol level, average HDL cholesterol level or excellent HDL cholesterol level, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Alcohol-related Problems

Elevated levels of HDL cholesterol are generally considered to have a protective effect against cardiovascular disease.  However, very elevated levels can be a result of liver disease or chronic intoxication.

The Effects Of Overtraining

Very vigorous exercise and regular long-term heavy aerobic exercise can cause HDL levels to become especially elevated.  This is in keeping with the fact that exercise raises HDL levels, and demonstrates that overexertion produces further elevations.  It is unlikely that there are any negative effects from this elevation, only cardiovascular benefits.

... and also rule out issues such as:
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