Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cholesterol Numbers

Many of my immediate and extended family members have heart health issues, including cholesterol troubles. I got an email from our health insurance company today, spelling out exactly what the numbers mean. I know that I always have to look this up, so I thought it would be a perfect future reference post here. Enjoy!

Cholesterol numbers you should know1

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in the blood. It is a normal part of blood, but too much cholesterol can block the flow of blood to the heart or brain. Ask your doctor what your cholesterol goals should be. Your goals will depend on your risk factors for heart disease and stroke. If your numbers are too high, with your doctor's help, you can lower your cholesterol and prevent a heart attack or stroke.

Total cholesterol
Desirable Below 200
Borderline high 200-239
High 240 or above
LDL (bad) cholesterol
Optimal Below 100
Near/above optimal 100-129
Borderline high 130-159
High 160-189
Very High 190 or above
HDL (good) cholesterol
High (higher is better) 60 or above
Low Below 40
Normal Below 150
Borderline high 150-199
High 200-499
Very high 500 or above

Cholesterol numbers you should know

There are different kinds of fat found in the blood.

  • LDL cholesterol is the "bad" cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol can block the arteries.
  • HDL cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol. It helps keep the arteries from blocking.
  • Triglycerides are another kind of fat in the blood. They can also raise your risk of heart disease.

[1] According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Available at as of June 2010.

This message provides general health or safety information and is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a physician or other health care professional.

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