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Living Well

Cholesterol and You

Last updated: Dec 22, 2009


About Cholesterol
A waxy substance found in the walls of cells throughout the body, cholesterol is necessary for helping synthesize hormones, bile acids, vitamin D, and other important substances. Having too much cholesterol, however, can lead to serious health problems such as hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and heart attack. 

Blood transports 2 types of cholesterol throughout the body in tiny particles called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol is referred to as bad cholesterol because it transports cholesterol to tissues, including the arteries, where it can build up. High-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol is known as the good cholesterol because it transports cholesterol from the tissues to the liver, which removes it from the body. People with high LDL levels, low HDL levels, or both are at higher risk for heart disease.

Know Your Cholesterol Levels
Because most people with abnormal cholesterol levels have no symptoms until they have severe blockages, all people aged 20 years or more should have their cholesterol levels checked at least once every 5 years. People with high cholesterol levels should be tested more often. Ask your doctor how often you should be tested.

What’s Your Level?

Total Cholesterol

  • Less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is desirable
  • 200 to 239 mg/dL is borderline high
  • 240 mg/dL or more is high

LDL Cholesterol

  • Less than 75 mg/dL is optimal for people with coronary disease
  • Less than 100 mg/dL is ideal
  • 100 to 129 mg/dL is almost ideal
  • 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline high
  • 160 to 189 mg/dL is high (abnormal)
  • 190 mg/dL or more is very high (abnormal)

HDL Cholesterol

  • Less than 40 mg/dL is low (abnormal)
  • 60 mg/dL or more is high (helps protect against heart disease)

Although you cannot change risks for heart disease such as your age, gender, or heredity, controlling your cholesterol is among steps you can take to protect your cardiovascular health.

For more information about cholesterol testing
or to schedule an appointment,
please call Summit Medical Group Cardiology
at 908-273-4300.