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Understanding Cholesterol

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Measuring Cholesterol Levels
Everyone age 20 and older should have his or her cholesterol measured at least once every five years. A blood test called a lipoprotein panel can help show whether you're at risk for coronary heart disease by looking at substances in your blood that carry cholesterol. This blood test is done after a 9-to-12-hour fast (no eating) and gives information about your: * Total cholesterol–a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. * LDL (bad) cholesterol–the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries * HDL (good) cholesterol–HDL helps remove cholesterol from your arteries * Triglycerides–another form of fat in your blood that can raise your risk for heart disease
Risk Factors
Major Risk Factors That Affect Your LDL Goal * Cigarette smoking * High blood pressure (140/90 mmHg or higher or on blood pressure medication) * Low HDL cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL) * Family history of early heart disease (heart disease in father or brother before age 55; heart disease in mother or sister before age 65) * Age (men 45 years or older; women 55 years or older)
See how your cholesterol numbers compare to the table below: Total Cholesterol Level | Category | Less than 200mg/dL | Desirable | 200-239 mg/dL | Borderline high | 240mg/dL and above | High | | | LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Level | LDL Cholesterol Category | Less than 100mg/dL | Optimal | 100-129mg/dL | Near optimal/above optimal | 130-159 mg/dL | Borderline high | 160-189 mg/dL | High | 190 mg/dL and above | Very High | | | HDL (Good) Cholesterol Level | HDL Cholesterol Category | Less than 40 mg/dL | A major risk factor for heart disease | 40—59 mg/dL | The higher, the better | 60 mg/dL...

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