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Understanding Cholesterol

CHOLESTEROL CLASSIFICATIONS
Total Cholesterol
Less than 200 mg/dL  Desirable
200 - 239 mg/dL  Borderline high
240 mg/dL and above  High
LDL Cholesterol
Less than 100 mg/dL  Optimal (ideal)
100 - 129 mg/dL  Near optimal
130 - 159 mg/dL  Borderline high
160 - 189 mg/dL  High
190 mg/dL and above  Very high
HDL Cholesterol
Less than 40 mg/dL  Major heart disease
risk factor
60 mg/dL and above  Gives some protection
against heart disease
Your Lipoprotein Profile

People aged 20 years or older should have their cholesterol checked by their physician at least once every 5 years. Cholesterol is measured from a small blood sample taken after a nine- to twelve-hour fast. In the past, physicians usually measured only total cholesterol, but the currently recommended test is called a lipoprotein profile, which measures LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Measurements are reported as milligrams of cholesterol in a deciliter of blood (mg/dL).

Keeping track of your cholesterol is important not only because it is a major risk factor for heart disease, but because it is very treatable. Lowering elevated LDL levels can slow or even reverse the buildup of plaque and can prevent heart attacks and even death from heart disease.

If You Have High Cholesterol

If your LDL cholesterol is elevated, your doctor may calculate your heart disease risk score -- which is based on your risk factors -- to set a cholesterol goal for you. The higher your risk is, the more your cholesterol needs to go down. Dietary changes and exercise are often all that is necessary to get your cholesterol under control. If diet and exercise alone arenšt enough, your doctor may also prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication.

Keeping track of your cholesterol numbers and maintaining a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle is the best way to keep your cholesterol under control and avoid developing heart disease.