Know Your Number
Tests to measure cholesterol – A lipid profile, also referred to as a lipid panel or lipoprotein profile, measures total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides. The blood test is done after fasting for nine to 12 hours to eliminate fat recently consumed.
HDL is dense in comparison to the other cholesterol particles. It’s known as the “good cholesterol,” as it removes the “bad” cholesterol from the arteries and reduces the risk for heart disease. LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, causes clogged arteries by contributing to the production of plaque buildup.
Triglycerides are another part of total cholesterol that are produced by carbohydrates, or sugars, in the diet. They are indirectly associated with heart disease because they influence the size of the LDL particle. Small, dense LDL particles are more likely to get into the blood vessel and cause damage and triglycerides are associated with more of the small, dense LDL particle.
Total cholesterol can be skewed by a high HDL. It is no longer thought to mitigate a high LDL.
What are key numbers to know?
- 60 mg/dL+ = good
- 40 – 59 mg/dL= acceptable
- less than 40 mg/dL = low and increases risk of heart disease
- Less than 100 mg/dL = optimal
- 100 mg/dL - 129 mg/dL = near optimal
- 130-159 mg/dL = borderline
- 160-189 = high
- Greater than 190 = very high
- Less than 150 mg/dL in both men and women