Heart Health: Cholesterol Levels And You

    4. If your total cholesterol is 240 mg/dL and above, regardless of your HDL-cholesterol level:

    You will need a lipoprotein profile to find out your LDL-cholesterol level. You need to fast for 9 to 12 hours before the test, having nothing but water.

    Depending on the results of your total cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol tests, you may also need to have a second blood test called a lipoprotein profile, to determine your LDL-cholesterol. LDL-cholesterol is often called the “bad” cholesterol. For this type of test, your doctor will ask you to fast for 9 to 12 hours before the test. An LDL-cholesterol level test gives your doctor more information about your risk of heart disease and helps guide any necessary treatment.

    There are three categories for LDL-cholesterol.

    ▪          A desirable level is less than 130 mg/dL
    ▪          A borderline-high risk level is from 130 to 158 mg/dL
    ▪          High risk is 160 mg/dL and above.

    The following guidelines apply to LDL levels for people who do not have heart disease.

    If your LDL level is less than 130 mg/dL:

    You have a desirable LDL-cholesterol level. You will need to have your total and HDL cholesterol levels tested again in 5 years. You should follow an eating plan low in saturated fat and cholesterol, maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, and not smoke.

    If your LDL level is 130 mg/dL or above:

    Your doctor will look at your other heart disease risk factors and decide what you need to do to lower your LDL-cholesterol level. The higher your level and the more risk factors you have, the more you need to follow a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. For example, if your LDL is 160 mg/dL or greater and you have fewer than two other risk factors, your LDL goal is a level below 160 mg/dL. If your LDL is 130 mg/dL or greater and you have two or more risk factors, your goal is to reduce your LDL level to below 130 mg/dL.

    It is also important to lose weight if you are overweight, to be physically active, and to not smoke. Discuss your treatment plan with your doctor.

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