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High Cholesterol Message Board

High Cholesterol Board Index

What Do Cholesterol Test Numbers Mean? continued...
Total blood cholesterol level:

High risk: 240 mg/dL and above
Borderline high risk: 200-239 mg/dL
Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL cholesterol levels:

Very high risk: 190 mg/dL and above
High risk: 160-189 mg/dL
Borderline high risk: 130-159 mg/dL
Near optimal: 100-129 mg/dL
Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL
HDL cholesterol:

High risk: Less than 40 mg/dL
Desirable: 60 mg/dL and above
Triglyceride levels:

Very high risk: 500 mg/dL and above
High risk: 200-499 mg/dL
Borderline high risk: 150-199 mg/dL
Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL

You may look and feel fine. But if your cholesterol is high, then your heart health -- and therefore your overall health -- are at risk.

"Cholesterol is a waxy-like substance made in the liver, and is also derived from the foods we eat. It comes in two forms: LDL, the bad cholesterol, and HDL, the good cholesterol," says Michael Schloss, MD, assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine and co-director of the NYU Lipid Treatment Program.

LDL is considered bad, Schloss says, because it builds up inside artery walls, leading to clot formation, inflammation, and, eventually, heart disease. HDL, on the other hand, transports LDL out of the blood vessels and into the liver, where it can be processed and eliminated. Along with triglycerides, another form of blood fat, LDL and HDL form your total cholesterol count. Generally, when HDL is high and LDL is low, your body and your heart are healthier.

But what causes people to have unhealthy cholesterol numbers -- HDL that's too low or LDL that's too high? For some people, genetics is to blame. For others, the culprit is a diet high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which the body converts into cholesterol. For most, it's a combination of a genetic predisposition and a high-fat diet.

Hope this helps.

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