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What High Cholesterol Means for Your Health

Return to lipid articles

The American Heart Association recommends a fasting lipoprotein profile for everyone over the age of 20 at least once every five years. This profile includes total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. There are no obvious symptoms of high cholesterol, making definitive results possible only through a blood cholesterol test. The earlier a problem is discovered, the less damage it will do to the body.

High cholesterol, also referred to as hypercholesterolemia, has been linked to a variety of health conditions including coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure to name a few.

Normal cholesterol levels may vary slightly by age, race, gender, lifestyle, diet and weight.

Having a lipid panel done is the most effective practice for early detection of a variety of medical problems. A lipid is a broad group of molecules, this includes cholesterol.

What does a normal test look like?

Total Cholesterol

Less than 200 mg/dL

HDL Cholesterol Greather than 40 mg/dl
LDL Cholesterol 60 to 130 mg/dl
Triglycerides 10 to 150 mg/dl
**mg/dL = milligrams per deciliter

Frequency of high cholesterol in the United States as reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Race or Ethnic Group Men (%) Women (%)
African Americans 11.2 13.0
Mexican Americans 17.7 13.8
Whites 16.0
All 15.6 16.9

Age Men (%) Women (%)
20-34 9.5 10.3
35-44 20.5 12.7
45-54 20.8 19.7
55-64 16.0 30.5
65-74 10.9 24.2
75 and older 9.6 18.6
All 15.6 16.9

Complications associated with high cholesterol
Heart disease is one of common problem caused by high cholesterol when too much is present. Instead of flowing smoothly, this overabundance of cholesterol becomes thick and sticks along the walls of the arteries. Like a highway suddenly filling up with too many cars, as the arteries become clogged there is nowhere left for blood to go. Blood flow to the heart lessens and can result in the hardening of the arteries walls, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This is one of the known causes of heart disease but fortunately it is one that can be controlled once discovered. For more complications associated with high cholesterol click here.