What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that occurs naturally in the body and is made by the liver. It is also found in the food that we eat. Everybody has and needs cholesterol as it helps hormones, cells, and membranes to function.
Why should I be concerned about cholesterol?
Too much cholesterol in your body means that you stand the risk of heart disease. Having too much can lead to cholesterol building up on the walls of the arteries that carry blood to your heart. This build-up happens over time and causes a blockage or narrower path for the blood to flow through which results in less oxygen getting to your heart.
What is the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol?
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is known as ‘good’ cholesterol. HDL takes the bad cholesterol out of your blood and keeps it from building up in the arteries. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is known as ‘bad’ cholesterol as it can build up on the walls of your arteries and increase your chances of getting heart disease. When getting tested, you want your HDL level to be high and your LDL level to be low.
How much cholesterol is too much?
The recommended cholesterol level is below 200 mg/dL. HDL cholesterol reduces your risk for heart disease, which is why its level needs to be high. A level less than 40 mg/dL is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL or more help lower the risk for heart disease. Triglyceride levels that are borderline high (150 – 199) or high (200 or more) may require treatment.
Total Cholesterol Category Less than 200 Desirable 200-239 Borderline High 240 and above High LDL Cholesterol LDL Cholesterol Category Less than 100 Optimal 100-129 Near optimal/
130-159 Borderline High 160-189 High 190 and above Very High
Can I lower my risk for heart disease if I lower my cholesterol?
The risk for heart disease is lower when you have low total cholesterol and low LDL levels.