The role of high cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in cells in all parts of the body. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries and cause blood clots. Cholesterol can clog your arteries and keep your heart from getting the blood it needs. This can cause a heart attack.
There are two types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often called the "bad" type of cholesterol because it can clog the arteries that carry blood to your heart. For LDL, lower numbers are better.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as "good" cholesterol because it takes the bad cholesterol out of your blood and keeps it from building up in your arteries. For HDL, higher numbers are better.
All women age 20 and older should have their blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked at least once every 5 years.
Understanding the numbers
Total cholesterol level—Lower is better.
Less than 200 mg/dL - Desirable
200 - 239 mg/dL – Borderline High
240 mg/dL and above - High
LDL (bad) cholesterol - Lower is better.
Less than 100 mg/dL - Optimal
100-129 mg/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 - Higher is better. More than 60 mg/dL is best.
Triglyceride levels - Lower is better. Less than 150mg/dL is best.