You can be in great physical condition but still have high cholesterol. That’s because high cholesterol isn’t only caused by dietary choices—it can also be inherited. If you don’t know your cholesterol levels, start by getting tested and discuss the results with your doctor.
Quick Facts about Cholesterol
- Here’s something you may not know: our bodies make all the cholesterol we need. The blood test to measure your cholesterol level measures the amount of circulating cholesterol in your blood. About 85 percent of your blood cholesterol level is produced by your body, while the other 15 percent comes from your diet.
- There are two types of cholesterol: “good” and “bad.” It’s important to know the levels of “good” and “bad” cholesterol in your blood. Too much of one type—or not enough of another—can put you at risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke.
- HDL is the “good” cholesterol, and LDL is the “bad” cholesterol. HDL’s role is to keep the LDL cholesterol from clogging your arteries and increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. A healthy level of HDL may protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL can increase the risk of heart disease.
What Influences Your Cholesterol Levels?
Several different factors can contribute to high blood cholesterol, including diet, age, family history and ethnic group. For example:
- An unhealthy diet. That is, one with too much saturated fat
- Lack of exercise or physical activity. This can increase your LDL levels
- Alcohol. Regularly drinking high levels of alcohol can increase your cholesterol levels.
- Smoking. A chemical found in cigarettes stops HDL from transporting LDL to the liver.
- Family history of early heart disease or stroke—in a father or brother under the age of 55 or a mother or sister under the age of 65.
- Age. The older you are, the greater your likelihood of your arteries narrowing (atherosclerosis).
- Ethnic group. People of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan descent have an increased risk of high blood cholesterol.
Know Your Numbers
Have your cholesterol levels tested every three to five years—more often if your levels are high. When you do, here are the numbers you want to see:
Desirable Total Cholesterol: Below 200
Borderline Total Cholesterol: 200-240
Undesirable Total Cholesterol: Above 240
Desirable HDL Cholesterol: Above 45
Borderline HDL Cholesterol: 35-45
Undesirable HDL Cholesterol: Below 35
Desirable LDL Cholesterol: Below 130
Borderline LDL Cholesterol: 130-160
Undesirable LDL Cholesterol: Above 160
Desirable Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio: Below 4.5
Borderline Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio: 4.5-5.5
Undesirable Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio: Above 5.5
Desirable Total LDL/HDL Ratio: Below 3
Borderline Total LDL/HDL Ratio: 3-5
Undesirable Total LDL/HDL Ratio: Above 5
At Invision Health, we encourage our patients to take charge of their own health—and our doctors are here to help you. Contact your physician—or the healthcare professionals at Invision Health— today to find out more about your cholesterol, and what you can do to stay healthy.