Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in your blood. When there is too much, it builds up on the walls of your arteries and can slow down or stop blood from getting to your heart. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol, the greater your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
There are different kinds of cholesterol in your blood. A simple blood test can tell you and your doctor how much of each kind you have.
What do your cholesterol numbers mean?
- Total cholesterol – Less than 200 mg/dL is good.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol – This is the kind that can build up and block the arteries. LDL levels lower than 100 mg/dL are best.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol – This kind can keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL or more help lower your risk for heart disease.
- Triglycerides – This is another form of fat in your blood that can raise your risk for heart disease if you have too much. Levels that are borderline high (150-199 mg/dL) or high (200 mg/dL or more) may need treatment.
Ask your doctor what your cholesterol levels should be and how often to get tested.
To lower your risk for high blood cholesterol:
- Eat healthy. Reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet.
- Watch your weight. Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you need to.
- Be active. Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most, if not all, days.