If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, or have a friend or family member that has been, you might be wondering exactly what those cholesterol levels mean. Here is a look at the different types of cholesterol, what the levels mean, and when you have a cholesterol problem.
Cholesterol can be found throughout the body. Depending on the type, it can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Cholesterol that is too high can put you at a greater risk for heart problems or even stroke. However, if your “good” cholesterol is too low, that can put you at risk for problems as well. But understanding what the levels mean can help you maintain better overall health.
Looking at your total cholesterol
Your total cholesterol gives you an overall picture of your cholesterol levels. Depending on you number, your total cholesterol level may be high or normal. A number under 200 mg/DL is the best level to have. DL stands for deciliter of blood, and if you have less than 200 mg of cholesterol in this amount it is considered a normal and healthy amount.
If your total cholesterol level is between 200 and 239 mg/DL, then you are at an increased risk for stroke and heart problems. If your total cholesterol level falls in this range, you may want to talk to your doctor about things that you can do to get your cholesterol back within a healthy range. Depending on how high your levels are, you may be able to control your cholesterol levels with diet or you may need medication.
If your cholesterol level is higher than 240mg/DL then you are at a very high risk for developing heart problems. You should talk to your doctor as soon as possible about options that you have for bringing your cholesterol back down.
Your HDL Cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is known as the “good” cholesterol. If you are a woman, your normal levels of HDL are between 50 and 60 mg/DL. If you are a man, the normal levels are between 40 and 50 mg/DL. For either sex, having a level lower than 40 mg/DL can put you at an increased risk of heart problems.
Your LDL Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol and the one that you have to watch. An optimum level of LDL cholesterol is under 100 mg/DL while a normal level ranges between 100 and 129 mg/DL. Any higher than that, and you have varying amounts of risk for heart problems and other health issues.
Always keep I mind that your cholesterol levels are only part of the picture of your overall health. Your doctor will generally run a complete blood panel to get a total picture of your health. In some cases, a higher or lower level of cholesterol may be normal for you. If your levels are found to be abnormal, your doctor will be able to advise you of the best course of action to get your levels back within a normal, healthy range.