Question

Cholesterol

What number of HDL cholesterol should I aim for?

A Answers (5)

  • HDL is the "good " cholesterol in your body. With this number, the higher, the better. A low level of HDL cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. A blood level of 40 mg/dL or more is the target number for HDL.

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  • AJames Underberg, MD, Cholesterol Management, answered on behalf of National Lipid Association

    Optimal levels for HDL cholesterol have been set by different groups. Less than 40 mg/dL in men and less than 50 mg/dL in women are considered "low”. While these levels may track with risk for heart disease for groups of patients (populations), there is no evidence that trying to raise HDL cholesterol with medications reduces risk for heart attacks or stroke. If your HDL cholesterol is low, careful consideration by your physician to understand why it is low is important. Treating the underlying cause, and targeting the LDL Cholesterol and then another target called "non-HDL cholesterol" is what our current national guidelines suggest. HDL Cholesterol has many roles, in most cases protective for heart disease, but also in most cases NOT measured by traditional testing. Careful consideration of these factors is necessary to any complete cardiovascular risk evaluation.

  • AAnthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program consider high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels of 60 mg/dL or above protective against heart disease, while levels of less than 40 mg/dL are regarded as too low and increase your risk.

    To boost your HDL, your best bets are to lose weight, eat well (paying particular attention to minimizing unhealthy fats and consuming more heart-healthy fats), engage in more physical activity, stop smoking, and drink alcohol in moderation (no more than one drink a day for women and two for men). Certain medications can also help to raise HDL levels.
  • ACurtis Mann, Family Medicine, answered on behalf of NorthShore University HealthSystem
    Curtis Mann, MD - What number of HDL cholesterol should I aim for?

    HDL cholesterol levels should ideally be above 60. Watch this video to learn more from Dr. Curtis Mann about HDL cholesterol.

  • A good goal for HDL cholesterol is 40 milligrams per deciliter or higher. If your number is below 40 mg/dl, you should consider discussing it with your family doctor to see what it means for you. In general, people with low HDL cholesterol levels are at increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.
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