Knowing your cholesterol numbers is key to understanding your overall health. High cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis, a buildup of cholesterol on the walls of your arteries that can lead to major heart problems.
“You want to aim for a total cholesterol level below 200 milligrams (mg) per deciliter (dL) of blood,” says Erica E. Gibson, MD, family practice physician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “If your level is 200 to 239 mg/dL, it is borderline high, and if your level is more than 240, you need to talk to your doctor right away.”
When you receive your cholesterol number, you will be given two different numbers – low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good cholesterol.” Ideally, your LDL should be between 100 and 129 mg/dL; an LDL of more than 160 mg/dL is cause for concern. Your HDL should be above 60 mg/dL.