MemorialCare Health System Your Health: Understanding Cholesterol Tests
Now that you have the results of your cholesterol test it is important that you understand them. The following guidelines come from the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood.
Total Cholesterol Level
A level of less than 200 mg/dL is desirable. But even levels of 200-239 mg/dL (borderline high) can increase your risk of heart disease. Here’s the breakdown:
A level of 160 mg/dL or above is high. Work with your health care provider to determine a LDL level goal that's best for you. Here’s how to interpret your measurements:
A level of 60 mg/dL or more is good and helps to lower your risk for heart disease. Remember that HDL (good) cholesterol protects against heart disease, so for HDL, higher numbers are better. A level less than 40 mg/dL is low and increases your risk for developing heart disease.
Triglycerides can also raise your risk for heart disease. Levels that are borderline high (150-199 mg/dL) or high (200 mg/dL or more) may require diet, medication or other intervention.
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