Total cholesterol is the sum of the different lipoproteins that carry
cholesterol in the blood stream. LDL and
HDL together make up most of the total,
but there are smaller amounts of some other lipoproteins that are a part of the
Total cholesterol less than 200mg/dl is desirable. The risk for a heart attack
or stroke is relatively low, unless there are other risk factors present. To
keep the total cholesterol in the desirable range it’s a good idea to eat a
healthy diet; low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats, and plenty of
fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Regular exercise will help keep total
cholesterol in the desirable range also. It is recommended to repeat the blood
test at least every five years as long as the result is in the desirable range.
Total cholesterol of 200 to 239mg/dl is considered borderline high. About one
third of American adults are in this category. The risk for heart attack and
stroke may be twice as high as those with total cholesterol less than 200mg/dl.
Reducing the amount of saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fats in the diet is
important to reduce the total cholesterol to less than 200mg/dl, thereby
reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Regular exercise may help reduce
total cholesterol. If other risk factors for heart disease are present it is
important to discuss them also with your primary care provider. A few people
with total cholesterol in this range, who have high HDL and normal LDL levels
and no other risk factors, may not be at increased risk. Ask your primary care
provider to interpret the results for you.
Total cholesterol of 240mg/dl or more is high blood cholesterol. The risk for
heart disease and stroke is more than twice that of someone whose total
cholesterol is less than 200mg/dl. About one in five American adults have high
blood cholesterol. A lipid profile to assess LDL should be done, and repeated
after a few months of treatment to make sure the treatment is effective.
Treatment for high blood cholesterol includes diet changes to reduce saturated
fat, cholesterol and trans fats, exercise, and sometimes medications.
Total Cholesterol Level
|Less than 200 mg/dl
|240 mg/dl and higher
||High; more than twice the risk of heart disease compared to a level
less than 200