What Do My Cholesterol
Do You Know Your Cholesterol Numbers?
Hypercholesterolemia (hy-per-koh-les-ter-ol-EE-mee-uh). It’s a big name for “high
Cholesterol serves an important purpose in the body, like helping cells and nerves function
properly. But if not controlled, high cholesterol can cause some big, serious health problems,
such as a heart disease and stroke.
When your doctor checks your cholesterol level, make sure to ask him/her to break down the
numbers for you:
HDL (“good”) cholesterol
LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
Total Cholesterol Numbers – What’s “normal”?
Normal Borderline High
< 200* mg/dL 200-239 mg/dL 240 mg/dL or higher
*This total includes an HDL of 60
mg/dL or higher
(Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
LDL Cholesterol Level
Maintaining a lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level can greatly reduce your risk of heart attack
and stroke. LDL cholesterol is actually a better gauge of risk than total blood cholesterol. The
chart below can help you know what your LDL level means:
LDL Cholesterol Levels
Less than 100 mg/dL Optimal
100 to 129 mg/dL Near Optimal/ Above Optimal
130 to 159 mg/dL Borderline High
160 to 189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL and above Very High
To help keep your LDL cholesterol at an optimal level, your doctor may suggest the following:
Adjusting your eating plan to include more fruits and vegetables and foods that are low in
saturated fat and cholesterol
Getting regular physical activity on most, if not all days of the week
Maintaining a healthy weight
Taking medication as prescribed if you can not reduce your LDL cholesterol with these
Your HDL cholesterol level
HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels can vary between men and women. According to the American
Heart Association (AHA):
An average man’s HDL cholesterol levels can range from 40 to 50 mg/dL.
An average woman’s HDL can range from 50 to 60 mg/dL.
HDL cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL is low.
Having low HDL cholesterol can significantly increase your risk for heart disease. What
contributes to low HDL cholesterol levels? The AHA says smoking and being overweight and
inactive can all contribute. So, the key is to raise HDL cholesterol by:
Maintaining a healthy weight (or losing pounds if overweight)
Staying physically active most (or all) days of the week for at least 30-60 minutes
Your triglyceride level
Triglycerides are a common form of fat carried through the bloodstream. They come from two
sources: food (and alcohol) and the body itself. Triglycerides act as a source of fuel by providing
energy-like carbohydrates and proteins to help the body function. If triglyceride levels are too high,
the risk of developing heart disease also increases. The chart below can help you know what your
triglyceride level means:
Triglyceride Level Classification
Less than 150 mg/dL Normal
150–199 mg/dL Borderline-high
200–499 mg/dL High
500 mg/dL or higher Very high
Changing certain habits can help maintain a normal triglyceride level. These include:
Maintaining a healthy weight
Eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol (i.e., more fruits, vegetables and whole
Getting regular physical activity
Drinking less alcohol
Check out more information on cholesterol in the Condition Centers at empireblue.com.
American Heart Association - http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=183
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute - http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/wyntk.htm
Dietetic Association – www.eatright.org
This information is intended for educational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult your
physician for advice about changes that may affect your health.