Cholesterol levels are some of the most important numbers you need to know for heart health. It is recommended that these levels should be measured at least once every five years by everyone over the age of 20.
Here is a guideline to help you understand your cholesterol report. Print and clip the chart, keep it handy for future reference (on the back of your medicine cabinet mirror or on the inside of your address book), so you know what your numbers mean.
In the last few years, the government health department issued a new standard for cholesterol levels.
According to Washington University clinical associate, Thomas Bartholet, MD, “These new numbers reflect the importance of high cholesterol on heart health and the rising number of Americans at risk for heart disease. The optimal goal for lipid levels depends on each person’s other risk factors (such as smoking, diabetes, or existing heart disease.”
The lipoprotein profile comes in the form of numbers. The following guidelines may be helpful in understanding your cholesterol report:
LDL – Low density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called “bad” cholesterol. It can build up on the walls of the arteries and increase your chances of getting heart disease. The lower your LDL number, the better it is for your health.
• Optimal – less than 100
• Near optimal – 100-129
• Borderline high risk – 130-159
• High risk – 160-189
• Very high risk – 190 or higher
HDL – High density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called “good” cholesterol. The higher number the better, because HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease by taking the “bad” cholesterol out of your blood.
• Optimal – 60 and above
• Heart disease risk – less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women
Triglycerides – Fats carried in the blood from the food we eat. Excess calories, alcohol, or sugar are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells throughout the body. A high triglyceride level has been linked to the occurrence of coronary artery disease in some people.
• Normal – less than 150
• Borderline high -- 150-199
• High – 200-499
• Very high – 500 or higher
Total blood cholesterol – is a measure of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and other lipid components.
• Desirable – Less than 200
• Borderline high – 200-239
• High – 240 and above
Dr. Bartholet is a primary care physician with Washington University Clinical Associates – Maryland Medical Group- close to I-64 and Hampton Avenue. He is currently accepting new patients. Please call 314-367-3113 for an appointment.
Patients are seen at:
WUCA - Maryland Medical Group
1110 Highlands Plaza Drive East
St. Louis, MO 63110