High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages.
LDL (bad) cholesterol: When too much of this type is present in your bloodstream, this can clog your arteries and put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. It’s produced naturally by the body, but is also inherited from your parents or even grandparents, and cause you to create too much. Eating a diet high in saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol also increases how much you have.
HDL (good) cholesterol: It is believed by some experts that high levels of this type of cholesterol removes excess plaque from your arteries, slowing its buildup and helping to protect against a heart attack. Low levels, however, can actually increase your risk.
Triglycerides: This is a form of fat made in the body. If you have an inactive lifestyle, a diet high in carbohydrates, smoke, are obese, or drink too much alcohol, it can raise total cholesterol levels, and lead to high LDL and low HDL levels.
Cholesterol by the numbers
High cholesterol has no symptoms, and many people have it without knowing. Find out what your cholesterol levels are so you can lower them if you need to.
Less than 200 mg/dL: Desirable level that puts you at lower risk for heart disease. 200 to 239 mg/dL: Considered borderline high. 240 mg/dL and above: High blood cholesterol. A person with this level has more than twice the risk of heart disease.
HDL cholesterol levels:
Less than 50 mg/dL: Low HDL cholesterol. A major risk factor for heart disease. 60 mg/dL and above: High HDL cholesterol. Considered protective against heart disease.
LDL cholesterol levels:
Less than 100 mg/dL: Optimal 100 to 129 mg/dL: Near or above optimal 130 to 159 mg/dL: Borderline high 160 to 189 mg/dL: High 190 mg/dL and above: Very high
Less than 100 mg/dL: Optimal Less than 150 mg/dL: Normal 150–199 mg/dL: Borderline high 200–499 mg/dL: High 500 mg/dL and above: Very high
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