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High cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Your HDL, the healthy cholesterol, needs to be 50 or better; your LDL, the unhealthy cholesterol, should be under 100. If your numbers do not fall in this range, discuss strategies for lowering your LDL and increasing your HDL with a health-care professional.
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It is currently recommended that the total blood cholesterol level be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter. In addition, it is recommended that LDL cholesterol be less than 130 milligrams per deciliter, HDL cholesterol be greater than 35 milligrams per deciliter, and the triglyceride level be less than 150 milligrams per deciliter. The ratio of the total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol and the ratio of LDL to HDL are also important and are referred to as the cardiac risk factor ratios because they reflect whether cholesterol is being deposited into tissues or broken down and excreted. The total cholesterol-to-HDL ratio should be no higher than 4:1, and the LDL-to-HDL ratio should be no higher than 2.5:1.The risk of developing heart disease can be reduced dramatically by lowering the LDL cholesterol level while simultaneously raising the HDL cholesterol level. It has been concluded that for every 1 percent drop in the LDL cholesterol level, the risk of a heart attack drops by 2 percent. Conversely, for every 1 percent increase in the HDL level, the risk of a heart attack drops by 3 to 4 percent.The cholesterol level and ratios can be improved by dietary changes to reduce your overall intake of cholesterol and dietary fat
Cholesterol guidelines have recently changed and are now based on individualized cardiovascular disease risk. Your goal blood cholesterol depends on your age, gender, race, blood pressure, medical history, family history, and cholesterol profile.
Following are recommended cholesterol levels:
- Total cholesterol: Lower is better; 200 mg/dL or less is desirable.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) ("bad cholesterol"): Lower is better; 100 mg/dL or less is optimal for people with multiple cardiac risk factors; 70 mg/dL or less is the goal for most patients with heart disease.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) ("good cholesterol"): Higher is better; 40 mg/dL or more for men, 45 mg/dL or more for women; 60 mg/dL is considered protective against heart disease.
- Triglycerides: Lower is better; 150 mg/dL or less is normal.
- Ratio of total cholesterol to HDL: Obtained by dividing total cholesterol by HDL. Lower is better; 4.5:1 or less.
These are general guidelines. Your healthcare provider can help you set personal goals for cholesterol levels, based on your condition and other risk factors.
In an otherwise healthy person without known heart disease or risk factors for heart disease, a total cholesterol less than 200 is recommended. If a person has heart disease or other health problems, he should discuss his cholesterol goal with a physician.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.