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High Cholesterol

Nearly 1 in 3 American adults has high cholesterol. Too much cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in the United States. High cholesterol has no signs or symptoms, so the only way to know if you have it is to get your cholesterol checked. Talk to your health care team about how you can manage your cholesterol levels and lower your risk.

What is Important to Know About Cholesterol

Blood cholesterol is a waxy-fatty like substance made by your liver. Cholesterol is important for good health. Our bodies need it to perform important jobs like digesting fatty type foods and making important hormones.

Our bodies make enough cholesterol to meet its need, to stay on healthy diet limit the amount of dietary cholesterol as much as possible. Dietary cholesterol is found in animal foods, meats, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy products.

There are two main types of cholesterol:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. This type can build up in the walls of our arteries causing narrowing of passageways and reducing the blood flow to our heart and brain. This is called atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and it can increase the risk for heart attack or stroke.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol. This type helps to clear excess cholesterol from our blood vessels.

Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels helps you reduce the risk for cardiac disease. In order to maintain you must know your numbers. A simple blood test called lipoprotein profile reveals your cholesterol count.

What do your cholesterol numbers mean?

  • Cholesterol numbers are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dl) of blood. HDL (good) cholesterol protects against heart disease, so for HDL, higher numbers are better.
  • Triglycerides are another form of fat in your blood, can also rise heart disease risk.

Total Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol

LDL cholesterol



Less than 200 (but the lower the better)

Ideal is 60 or higher; 40 or higher for men and 50 or higher for women is acceptable

Less than 100; below 70 if coronary artery disease is present

Less than 149; ideal is <100

Moderately Elevated






240 or higher

60 or higher

160 or higher; 190 considered very high

200 or higher; 500 considered very high



less than 40



 Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) 2018

Tips to Manage High Cholesterol

  • Take your medication as directed
  • Make healthy lifestyle changes, like:
    • A diet low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol
    • A diet high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables   
    • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity daily              
    • Lose weight if needed
  • Talk with your healthcare team
  • Check your cholesterol regularly