Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Cholesterol Level: Testing & What it All Means


Your body naturally creates some cholesterol level, which is a fatty substance produced within the liver, that is necessary to protect various tissues and cells. It is also needed for the production of certain types of hormones, as well as for building healthy cells, and for protecting the delicate nerves in your body.

While some cholesterol is very much needed for maintaining good health, in excess it may cause serious conditions including heart disease, as well as negatively impacting your overall health.

Mg/dl is the type of measurements used to gauge these levels and refers to how many milligrams of cholesterol there are per deciliters of blood. Certain risk factors, such as heredity, blood pressure, age, being male, and being a smoker may all affect cholesterol readings.

To better determine your levels, your doctor may order a more detailed test referred to as a lipoprotein profile to detect your total blood cholesterol level. This will include both your HDL, which is considered to be good cholesterol, and your LDL, which is considered to be bad cholesterol.

Testing Total Blood Cholesterol Levels

If you’ve been tested and your triglycerides and both your HDL and LDL cholesterol levels are within the normal range, and your total blood levels were lower than 200 mg/dl, you are considered to be at a lower risk of developing some type of heart related disease.

If your readings were between 200 and 239 mg/dl, your doctor would probably tell you that you’re at a moderately high risk of developing coronary heart disease, and then take a closer look at the ratio of the individual types of cholesterol within your blood.

For cholesterol levels over 240 mg/dl, you would be considered to be in the high risk category and generally be twice as likely of developing heart disease than someone with levels below 200 mg/dl.

What is HDL Cholesterol?

The higher the level of HDL cholesterol, the better your health is considered to be. Men with readings lower than 40 mg/dl, and women with numbers are lower than 50 mg/dl would be at a higher risk of heart complications. An HDL level of over 60 is thought to be the optimal for warding off those diseases.

Two factors that may have an adverse effect on these numbers are smoking and being overweight. Regular exercise and a healthy diet low in fats but rich with whole grains and vegetables will help to maintain healthy levels of HDL cholesterol. Cigarette smoking should also be strictly avoided.

If you have high triglyceride levels you will usually also have the lowest HDL levels and be at the highest risks for having a stroke or heart attack.

What is LDL Cholesterol?

LDL cholesterol is also referred to as the “bad” type of the naturally fatty substance, and the lower the number, the better your chances are for avoiding heart problems caused by cholesterol.

A number lower than 100 mg/dl is optimum, while at the other end of the spectrum, a reading of 190 mg/dl would indicate a serious risk of developing cardiac disease. Your physician will assess your overall health, and also take into consideration any other risk factors you have before prescribing treatment, which will vary greatly from one person to the next.

One person’s LDL number may be higher than another person, but it could still be considered healthier based on these outlying factors. The best course of action is following your doctor’s advice and adhering to the treatment plan they’ve set forth for you.

What are Triglyceride Levels?

Much like cholesterol, triglycerides are also produced naturally within the body. Elevated levels will put you at risk for developing serious health conditions.

Usually, the higher the triglyceride level, the higher the LDL, and the lower HDL cholesterol will be. Generally, your triglyceride levels should fall below the 150 mg/dl mark, and anything over 500 is considered to be extremely high.

Today, you often hear about the importance of getting your cholesterol and triglyceride levels tested. And also how you should always be aware of what your numbers are. This is definitely true as unhealthy levels of both have the ability to raise the risks of everything from strokes, to heart attacks, to coronary artery disease.

Measuring Cholesterol in Milligrams

To measure the amount of cholesterol in the blood, milligrams are used.

Several various factors may affect that level such as Weight, Race, Age, General health, Family history, and certain conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Smoking and eating a diet high in fatty foods have also been proven to contribute toward unhealthy levels of cholesterol.

There are two different types of cholesterol that you should be concerned with:

  •     Low density lipoprotein (LDL), often referred to as “bad” cholesterol
  •     High density lipoprotein (HDL), which is also called “good” cholesterol

To determine these exact numbers, your physician will need to do specific tests that identify both levels as opposed to your total blood cholesterol.

If you have cholesterol readings of under 200 milligrams you are considered to have a minimal risk of developing heart disease. But if that number rises over 200, so does your risk.

While a reading of 200 to 239 milligrams is listed as being borderline, any cholesterol levels that are over 240 milligrams per deciliter of blood may double a your risk of acquiring heart related diseases and illnesses.

The level of HDL cholesterol in your body, in addition to other risk factors, may also be a reason for concern, especially if that number is out of the normal range.

There are numerous factors that will affect your cholesterol, such as age, heritage, whether or not high cholesterol runs in your family, as well as what type of lifestyle you follow.

Ideally, levels should be under 200 mg for the best chance of avoiding heart disease caused by cholesterol that’s too high. The average reading for HDL cholesterol is around 35 mg, which is thought to be normal, and anything over 60 is considered optimal.

For LDL cholesterol, strive for levels that are below 130, which is the normal range, and be wary of numbers over 160, as this is considered to be too high and elevates the risk of certain health conditions.

Gloria Brown
Women's health and wellness retreat leader providing vacations and trips for women to get in shape -- and stay that way! On you can find my articles about weight loss, health and women's issues. Please feel free to contact me on

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