Do You Know Your Cholesterol Numbers?

Keeping your cholesterol levels in the healthy range is a great way to keep your heart in shape, as well as lower your chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke. However, first, you have to know your cholesterol numbers. The American Heart Association recommends all adults aged 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years.

Know Your Cholesterol Numbers

How to Read Cholesterol

Your cholesterol test report will show your levels in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood. Your total cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol are among some of the factors your doctor can use to predict your lifetime or 10-year risk for a heart attack or stroke. To determine how your cholesterol levels affect your risk of heart disease, your doctor will also take into account other risk factors such as age, family history, smoking, and high blood pressure.

Complete Fasting Lipotein Profile

Total Blood Cholesterol

This is a composite of different types of cholesterol to create a person’s total score. The equation is HDL + LDL + 20% of triglyceride levels. Doctors don’t use this number much anymore, it is more a part of the entire recommendation equation.

HDL (good) Cholesterol

Doctors evaluate HDL cholesterol levels in context with other risk factors, like genetics, type 2 diabetes, smoking, high blood triglycerides, and being overweight or sedentary can all lower HDL cholesterol. Women tend to have higher levels of HDL cholesterol than men do.

LDL (bad) Cholesterol

A low LDL cholesterol level is good for your heart health. In the past, doctors relied on specific ranges for LDL. Today, doctors consider LDL levels as one factor of many in evaluating cardiovascular risk. A diet high in saturated and trans fat is unhealthy because it tends to raise LDL cholesterol.


Normal triglyceride levels vary by age and sex. High triglycerides often coincide with a high total cholesterol level, including a high LDL level and a low HDL level. Elevated triglycerides can be caused by several factors — overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a diet very high in carbohydrates (over 60 percent of total calories).

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