What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol acts in the body to support cell membranes, synthesize hormones, aid in digestion, and convert vitamin D in the skin.
What Does a Cholesterol Score Measure?
The American Heart Association recommends adults age 20 and older have cholesterol levels checked every four to six years.
A cholesterol score usually contains three measurements:
- Low density lipoproteins (LDL)
- “Bad” cholesterol
- Too much LDL can deposit in the artery walls
- This buildup can form plaque that narrows arteries and restricts blood flow, which lead to coronary artery disease
- High density lipoproteins (HDL)
- “Good” cholesterol
- HDL removes LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream and the artery walls
- A higher HDL score is desirable
- The most common form of fat in the body
- Can be an energy source
- A higher than normal triglyceride level may mean a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease
What Is the Normal Range for Cholesterol Levels?
People who do not have heart disease should aim for the following cholesterol levels:
- Total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL
- Levels above 200 mg/dL are considered high and mean a higher risk for developing heart disease
- LDL cholesterol below 130 mg/dL
- Or much lower for those at risk of heart attacks or stroke
- HDL cholesterol above 60 mg/dL
- HDL levels of 60 mg/dL and higher can help reduce the risk for heart disease
- HDL levels of 40 mg/dL and lower are considered a risk factor for developing heart disease
- Triglycerides below 150 mg/dL
- Non-HDL cholesterol below 160 mg/dL
- This is the total cholesterol minus the HDL cholesterol
- Or lower for those at risk of heart attacks or stroke