High blood cholesterol is one of the four major risk factors for coronary heart disease (cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and sedentary lifestyle are the other three).
High blood cholesterol occurs when there is too much cholesterol in your blood. Your cholesterol level is determined partly by your genetic makeup and the saturated fat and cholesterol in the foods you eat. Even if you didn’t eat any cholesterol, your body would manufacture enough for its needs.
The risk of developing coronary heart disease increases as your blood cholesterol level rises. This is why it is so important that everyone over age 20 should have their blood cholesterol level measured every five years.
The following breakdown can help you see how the results of your total blood cholesterol tests relate to your risk of developing coronary heart disease:
- Total Cholesterol
- Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dl
- Borderline High: 200 to 239 mg/dl
- High: 240 mg/dl and above
If your blood cholesterol is 240 mg/dl or greater, you have more than twice the risk of someone whose cholesterol is 200 mg/dl, and you need medical attention and further testing.
Lowering your total cholesterol levels will reduce your chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke, or dying of heart disease. If you have had a heart attack, keeping your cholesterol under control is especially important.
Managing your diet and weight, and increasing your physical activity can help bring low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol down to normal levels.