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Cholesterol Education

Release Date: September 16, 2021

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 3 American adults have high cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. With high cholesterol levels, you can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels that make it difficult for enough oxygen-rich blood to flow through your arteries to feed your heart and brain.

What is HDL cholesterol?

HDL cholesterol, also called “good” cholesterol, may protect against a heart attack and stroke. HDL takes cholesterol away from your arteries. Your HDL should be 50 mg/dl and above.

What is LDL cholesterol?

LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, can form a thick, hard, fatty deposit called plaque that narrows your arteries and reduces blood flow. Your LDL should be 100 mg/dl or lower. A reading of LDL under 70 mg/dl is an ideal goal and can reverse plaque buildup in your arteries.

What are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Your triglycerides should be 150 mg/dl or lower.

What is total cholesterol?

Total cholesterol is the total amount of cholesterol in your blood based on your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides numbers. Your total overall total cholesterol should be 200mg/dl or lower.

Symptoms of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol has no symptoms. Talk with your doctor about your health history and how often you need to have your cholesterol checked. The test gives you four results: total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.


High cholesterol can be hereditary, but it is mostly preventable and treatable with healthy lifestyle choices. Below are a few steps you can take to manage and improve your cholesterol.

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Take your medications as prescribed by your health care professional.

To learn more, visit the CDC’s Cholesterol website.

Last Updated: 09/16/2021
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