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*by Sucharu Chris Prakash, MD*
How often should cholesterol levels be checked?
The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that all adults have their fasting lipid profile checked at 20 years of age and every five years thereafter.
What should your cholesterol level be?
High cholesterol is associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, which can include coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
A complete cholesterol profile is made up of three different things:
Figuring out the best cholesterol levels to aim for can be confusing. I use the American Heart Association guidelines to help interpret the numbers:
|Total Cholesterol Level||Category|
|Less than 200 mg/dL||Desirable level that puts you at lower risk for coronary heart disease.|
|200 to 239 mg/dL||Borderline high|
|240 mg/dL and above||High blood cholesterol – A person with this level has more than twice the risk of coronary heart disease as someone whose cholesterol is below 200 mg/dL.|
|HDL Cholesterol Level||Category|
|Less than 40 mg/dL
Less than 50 mg/dL
|Low HDL cholesterol. A major risk factor for heart disease.|
|60 mg/dL and above||High HDL cholesterol – An HDL of 60 mg/dL and above is considered protective against heart disease.|
|LDL Cholesterol Level||Category|
|Less than 100 mg/dL||Optimal (especially if high risk of heart disease)|
|100 to 129 mg/dL||Near or above optimal|
|130 to 159 mg/dL||Borderline high|
|160 to 189 mg/dL||High|
|190 mg/dL and above||Very high – Your other risk factors for heart disease and stroke help determine what your LDL level should be.|
|Less than 100 mg/dL||Optimal|
|Less than 150 mg/dL||Normal|
|150–199 mg/dL||Borderline high|
|200–499 mg/dL||High - A triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or higher is one of the risk factors of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk for heart disease and other disorders, including diabetes.|
|500 mg/dL and above||Very high|
Every individual has his or her unique set of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It is important that a discussion be held with your doctor about your risk factors (and cholesterol profile is an important part of that). Only then can you arrive at a strategy to lower your risk, which may include a combination of lifestyle modification and drugs.
This information is strictly an opinion of Dr Prakash, and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Dr Chris Prakash is a contributing columnist, and author of eParisExtra’s “The Doctor is In” column. He is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology Paris. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Oncology and Hematology. He lives in Paris, TX with his wife and two children, and can be reached at 9037850031, or Sucharu.firstname.lastname@example.org