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Your Ideal Cholesterol Level

Beginning at age 20, everyone should have their cholesterol checked at least once every five years. This involves a blood test, usually a "lipoprotein profile," which measures your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Here are the guidelines for cholesterol:

Total Cholesterol Level What the numbers mean
Less than 200 mg/dL Desirable
200-239 mg/dL Borderline high
240 mg/dL and above High

LDL Cholesterol Level What the numbers mean
Less than 100 mg/dL Optimal
100-129 mg/dL Near optimal/above optimal
130-159 mg/dL Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL and above Very high

HDL Cholesterol Level What the numbers mean
Less than 40 mg/dL A major risk factor for heart disease
40 - 59 mg/dL The higher, the better
60 mg/dL and above Considered protective against heart disease

Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

* Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood.

Triglycerides can also raise your risk for heart disease. Levels that are borderline high (150-199 mg/dL) or high (200 mg/dL or more) may need treatment.


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