High blood cholesterol is a significant risk factor in heart disease. Lowering blood cholesterol through increased physical activity, weight loss, smoking cessation, and proper diet lowers that risk. However, blood cholesterol is very specific to each individual and, for that reason, a full lipid profile is an important part of your medical history and important information for your physician to have. In general, healthy levels are as follows:
- LDL - less than 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)
- HDL - greater than 40 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)
A total cholesterol level below 200 mg/dL is considered desirable in some individuals who already have coronary artery disease (CAD) and/or who have an increased number of risk factors for coronary heart disease, a physician may determine that the LDL cholesterol level should be kept lower than 130.
Recent studies have shown that those who are at highest risk for a heart attack should lower their LDL cholesterol level to less than 100, and that an LDL cholesterol level of 70 or less may be optimal for those individuals at the very highest level of risk.