What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean

Updated:Jul 31,2014

What do your levels mean?How’s your cholesterol? Time to get it checked!

Keeping your cholesterol levels healthy is a great way to keep your heart healthy – and lower your chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke.

But first, you have to know your cholesterol numbers.

The American Heart Association recommends all adults age 20 or older have their cholesterol, and other traditional risk factors, checked every four to six years.

View an animation of cholesterol score. (opens in new window)Your test report will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). Your total cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol are among numerous factors your doctor can use to predict your lifetime or 10-year risk for a heart attack or stroke.

View an animation of cholesterol score.

Your test report will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). To determine how your cholesterol levels affect your risk of heart disease, your doctor will also take into account other risk factors such as age, family history, smoking and high blood pressure.

A complete fasting lipoprotein profile will show the following for:

Your Cholesterol Levels

Your total cholesterol score is calculated by the following equation: HDL + LDL + 20% of your triglyceride level. A total cholesterol score of less than 180 mg/dL is considered optimal.

Learn How to Get Your Cholesterol Tested.


AHA Recommendation

We recommend that all adults age 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years, and work with their healthcare providers to determine their risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.



This content was last reviewed on 04/21/2014.

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