Keeping your cholesterol levels healthy is a great way to keep your heart healthy – and lower your chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke.

But first, you have to know your cholesterol numbers.

The American Heart Association recommends all adults have their cholesterol levels checked regularly—ideally, once per year. That’s why BioIQ includes a complete cholesterol/lipid panel as an essential part of its population health screening programs.

If you have already participated in a BioIQ health screening program then you have probably seen your test results in your personal health dashboard. They may look something like this:

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Your lab report depicts your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). Let’s look at each item in turn.

CHOLESTEROL

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like (lipid) substance found in every cell in the body. The body uses cholesterol to form cell membranes, aid in digestion, convert Vitamin D in the skin, and develop hormones.

Desirable: less than 200

Borderline High: 200 – 239

High: greater than 240

Here’s a sample lab report from BioIQ that shows desirable Total Cholesterol levels:

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HDL

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered “good cholesterol” because it removes excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and the artery walls and transports it back to the liver for metabolism.

Women:

Ideal: greater than 60 mg/dl

Desirable: 50 – 60 mg/dl

At risk: less than 50 mg/dl

Men
:

Ideal: greater than 60 mg/dl

Desirable: 40 – 50 mg/dl

At risk: less than 40 mg/dl

A high HDL level is desirable, as shown below:

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LDL

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is considered “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque—a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. LDL carries needed cholesterol to all parts of the body, but too much LDL in the system can lead to coronary artery disease.

Optimal: less than 100 mg/dl

Optimal Desirable: 100 – 129 mg/dl

Borderline: 130 – 159 mg/dl

High: 160 – 189 mg/dl

Very High: greater than 190

Lower is better with LDL Cholesterol:

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TRIGLYCERIDES

Triglycerides are the most common type of fat found in the body. They are produced in the liver from the food we eat. The body converts excess calories into triglycerides, which are stored in your fat cells until they are needed for energy.

Desirable: less than 150 mg/dl

Borderline High: 150 – 199 mg/dl

High: 200 – 499 mg/dl

Very High: greater than 500 mg/dl

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If you haven’t had a complete health screening in the last year, contact your wellness administrator or healthcare professional to schedule a simple blood test to learn these critical health metrics—then take action to improve them if necessary.

To determine how your cholesterol levels affect your risk of heart disease, you must also take into account other risk factors such as age, weight, waist circumference, family history, smoking, and blood pressure. We will look more closely at these factors in an upcoming post.

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