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
  • Birth Control Pill Issues
  • Lack Of Exercise
  • Alcohol Consequences
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Overtraining
  • Syndrome X

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:
moderate unexplained weight loss
a suspicious nature
occasionally feeling unusually cold
short-term memory failure
low aerobic exercise level
difficulty losing weight
high diastolic blood pressure
tonsils/adenoids out before age 20
numb/burning/tingling extremities
being highly motivated
African ethnicity
very long menstrual cycles
... and more than 70 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
Birth Control Pill Issues 94% Confirm
Atherosclerosis 29% Unlikely
Lack Of Exercise 28% Unlikely
Alcohol Consequences 5% Ruled out
Diabetes II 3% Ruled out
A Weight Problem 1% Ruled out
Syndrome X 0% Ruled out
Overtraining 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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