Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a soft waxy substance in your blood and in the cells of your body. A certain amount of Cholesterol is important for your body to function normally because it is used to form cell membranes, some hormones and is needed for other functions.  Too much can cause damage to various organs such as your heart.

Cholesterol can’t dissolve in the blood. It is transported to and from the cells by special carriers called lipoproteins. There are several kinds, but the two most important ones are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels should be 100 mg/dl or less if you don’t have heart disease. If you do have heart disease your level should be below 70mg/dl. Too much LDL can clog arteries to the heart and brain leading to heart attack and/or stroke.

HDL or “good” cholesterol helps remove “bad” cholesterol from your body. Men should have greater than 40mg/dl levels and women greater than 50 mg/dl.

Triglycerides are a type of fat in your bloodstream that is used as energy. Too high a level is not healthy. Normal levels should be less than 150mg/dl

Total Cholesterol is the total of all the cholesterol in your body. It should be less than 200 mg/dl (below 180 mg/dl is even better).

Cholesterol and triglyceride levels that are too high can be corrected with diet, exercise and medications. See your Primary Care Physician to determine what your best course of treatment should be.

Some of content from American Heart Association, Novo Nordisk and Merck literature.