RECOMMENDED BLOOD CHOLESTEROL LEVELS

RECOMMENDED BLOOD CHOLESTEROL LEVELS

The risk for CVD increases with higher blood cholesterol levels, especially LDL. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends lipoprotein testing at least once every five years for all adults, beginning at age 20. The recommended test measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides (another type of blood fat). In general, high LDL, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, combined with low HDL levels, are associated with a higher risk for CVD. You can reduce this risk by lowering LDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. Raising HDL is important because a high HDL level seems to offer protection from CVD even in cases where total cholesterol is high. This appears to be especially true for women.

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As shown in Table 11.2, LDL levels below 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) and total cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dl are desirable. An estimated 33.5 million American adults (age 20 and over) have total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dl or higher.

The CVD risk associated with elevated cholesterol levels also depends on other factors. For example, an above-optimal high-density lipoprotein (HDL) A lipoprotein TERMS containing relatively little cholesterol that helps transport cholesterol out of the arteries; “good” cholesterol.

A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 123: 2292-2333 level of LDL would be of more concern for someone who also smokes and has high blood pressure than for someone without these additional CVD risk factors, and it is especially a concern for diabetics.

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