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Heart and Vascular

Understanding Good Cholesterol and Bad Cholesterol

Feb 5 2018
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Chances are that during your the last visit to your doctor’s office, you had a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels. This test is called a lipid profile and it measures your total cholesterol score, which is the total amount of cholesterol in your blood and its individual parts. Your lipid profile numbers, along with your other risk factors, determine your overall risk for heart disease and whether your lipid levels require treatment.

Total cholesterol

Total cholesterol includes your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and 20 percent of your triglyceride level.

Less than 200 mg/dL = Best

200-239 mg/dL = Borderline high

240 mg/dL and above = High

LDL cholesterol: The “bad cholesterol”

LDL cholesterol makes up the majority of the body’s cholesterol. Having high levels of LDL can lead to plaque buildup on the walls of your arteries and increase your chances of getting heart disease or stroke. The lower your LDL cholesterol number, the lower your risk and the better for your heart health.

Less than 100 mg/dL = Best

100-129 mg/dL = Good

130-159 mg/dL = Borderline high

160-189 mg/dL = High

190 mg/dL and above = Very high

HDL cholesterol: The “good” cholesterol

Unlike LDL, HDL cholesterol can actually protect your heart against damage and remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries. Low levels, however, increase your risk for heart disease.

Less than 40 mg/dL = Low

40-59 mg/dL = Good

60 mg/dL and higher = Best

Triglycerides 

Triglycerides are another form of fat in your blood. Because they can raise your risk for heart disease, these numbers should be low.

Less than 150 mg/dL = Best

150-199 mg/dL = Borderline high

200-499 mg/dL = High

500 mg/dL and above = Very high

Cholesterol screening guidelines

The American Heart Association recommends all adults ages 20 and older have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. All children and adolescents should have their cholesterol monitored at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 years, and again between ages 17 and 21. Experts also recommend that men ages 35 and older and women ages 45 and older be more frequently screened for lipid disorders.

Knowing your numbers

Your cholesterol levels by themselves are not enough to predict your risk of heart problems. Rather, they’re just one part of the larger picture in combination and context with other risk factors such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, smoking status, and blood pressure. Together, these factors will help your doctor decide whether you need to be treated with cholesterol-lowering medication.

If you’re worried about your risk for serious heart problems, talk to your doctor to develop a strategy for reducing your risk. If you need a primary care physician, our team of caring and compassionate experts is here for you. Visit mercy.com or call 513-952-5000 to find a physician near you today.

Did you know that February is American Heart Month? For more heart health stories like lifestyle changes that can help you prevent heart disease and the top symptoms of a heart attack, be sure to check out our Heart and Vascular category, or sign up to receive news to your inbox below:


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How Dark Chocolate Can Affect Your Heart Health | Mercy Health Blog

[…] Along with lowering bad cholesterol, dark chocolate has also led to the improvement of “good cholesterol” levels, also called HDL cholesterol. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant capabilities. Read more about understanding good and bad cholesterol here. […]
May 31st, 2018 | 4:30am

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