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Understanding Your Cholesterol Levels 

What "High Cholesterol" looks like

1) Free flowing healthy artery. 2) Cholesterol builds up over time narrowing blood flow. 3) Obstructed artery due to cholesterol build up called plaque(s), which leads to clots that block blood flow, which can cause heart attack, stroke, or even death. 

Cholesterol (Total) 

High cholesterol levels can increase risk for heart disease. High cholesterol can have no symptoms, so it it very important to get your cholesterol levels checked regularly. An ideal range for Total Cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL, an ideal LDL Cholesterol is less than 130 mg/dL, and an ideal HDL Cholesterol is 60 mg/dL or higher. An ideal Total Cholesterol/HDL ratio should be lower than 3.5. Triglycerides ideally should be less than 150 mg/dL.  

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in all cells of the body. Manufactured by the liver, cholesterol is an essential component of cell membranes and nerve fiber insulation. Cholesterol is important for the metabolism and transport of fatty acids, and in the production of hormones and vitamin D. Excess cholesterol in your blood can build up in the walls of your arteries. This buildup of cholesterol is called plaque. Over time, plaque can cause narrowing of the arteries. This is called atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries.” Plaques can rupture, releasing fat and cholesterol into the bloodstream, which can result in a clot. A clot can block the flow of blood. This blockage can cause angina (tightening feeling in the chest), a heart attack, or stroke. Lowering your cholesterol level decreases your chance of having a plaque burst, causing a angina, heart attack, or stroke. Lowering cholesterol may also slow down, reduce or even prevent plaque from building up.

HDL ("Good" Cholesterol)

LDL ("Bad" Cholesterol)


  • Maintaining you LDL less than 100 mg/dL is ideal 

  • Can clog your arteries 

  • Can lead to heart disease

  • Can lead to heart attack

  • Can lead to stroke

  • Foods that increase LDL cholesterol tend to be high in saturated fat, trans fat or dietary cholesterol.

  • Remember smoking increases LDL 

  • Being overweight is associated with increases in LDL as well

  • Increases in LDL can unfortunately lead to death

  • Maintaining your HDL 60 mg/dL or higher is ideal

  • Maintains a healthy heart 

  • Decreases chance of heart attack

  • Decreases chance of stroke

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet increases HDL

  • Remember smoking decreases HDL 

  • Being overweight is associated with decreasing HDL as well


Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in our body and are a major source of energy. Similar to other fats, a high level may indicate a health problem like high cholesterol or other health related issues. Triglycerides ideally should be less than 150 mg/dL.

Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio

To obtain the total cholesterol/HDL ratio you divide the total cholesterol by the HDL cholesterol. A ratio lower than 5.0 indicates a decrease risk to heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. While a ratio higher than 5.0 indicates an increase risk to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio ideally should be less than 3.5.   

Medical Disclaimer

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

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