Levels of cholesterol are measured through a blood cholesterol test. A blood cholesterol test measures: total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and Triglycerides. Values for low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol can be calculated from these three values after the cholesterol test. So an exact measurement of the LDL cholesterol level is mostly not necessary. When needed, another blood cholesterol test is taken to determine the LDL level. The aim is to have a low level of LDL cholesterol and a high level of HDL cholesterol to lower the risk of developing plaques and coronary artery disease. A regular cholesterol test will keep track of the progress you are making.
Measuring only total cholesterol by a cholesterol test can be misleading because you might have low levels of HDL cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides, but normal or perhaps high levels of LDL cholesterol. Then, a total cholesterol reading from such a cholesterol test might appear normal so that even with a desirable total cholesterol level, a person with a low HDL level may have an increased risk of heart disease.
Normal cholesterol level
The following are a desirable, borderline and undesirable cholesterol level for adults over 20 years of age.
- Total cholesterol: Below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- Total triglycerides: Below 150 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol: Above 45 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol: Below 130 mg/dL
- Total cholesterol: 200 to 239 mg/dL
- Total triglycerides: 150 to 199 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol: 40 to 45 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol: 130 to 159 mg/dL
- Total cholesterol: 240 mg/dL and above
- Total triglycerides: 200 mg/dL and above
- HDL cholesterol: Below 40 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol: 160 mg/dL and above
A desirable and normal cholesterol level varies dependant on your risk factors, such as sex, age, family history and general health condition. So normal cholesterol and high cholesterol level can differ from person to person. Guidelines for a high cholesterol level or high blood lipids only indicate the high possibility of you developing coronary complications and so doctors recommend lifestyle and diet changes to get down to a normal cholesterol level. Guidelines for a high cholesterol level or high blood lipids only indicate the high possibility of you developing coronary complications and so doctors recommend lifestyle and diet changes to get down to a normal cholesterol level