High cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia affects nearly 93 million Americans over the age of 20. Another 63 million Americans have borderline high cholesterol. Excessive cholesterol can lead to a build-up of fatty deposits in our blood vessels or plaque formation. This can also lead to coronary artery disease, heart attacks, strokes and make it difficult for blood to flow to the lower part of your body (peripheral artery disease).
Current national guidelines call for getting a fasting cholesterol test every five years beginning at age 20. That's more than three decades away from prime heart-attack age — after age 55 for men and 65 for women. And if your cholesterol or lipid profile is abnormal, you may need to have it checked more frequently than that.
So, let’s take a look at where your cholesterol levels should be and how you can better control your cholesterol levels, just in case yours are a bit too high.
High cholesterol can be inherited, but it's often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, which make it preventable and treatable.
The goal for total cholesterol should be under 200.
|Total Cholesterol||Less than 200 mg/dL|
|LDL (“bad”) cholesterol||Less than 100 mg/dL|
|HDL (“good”) cholesterol||Greater than or equal to 60 mg/dL|
|Triglycerides||Less than 150 mg/dL|
A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can help reduce high cholesterol.
If your goal is not reached through behavior modification, there are medications we can use to improve your cholesterol.
The best way to track your cholesterol is by having a regularly scheduled blood test. Our guide “Decoding Your Lab Results” can help you. Inside you’ll find all of the information that will explain what your results mean—even cholesterol.