2. Has your cholesterol level been checked in the past five years?

Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol levels checked at least once every five years. You and your doctor can discuss how often you should be tested.

There are usually no signs or symptoms of high blood cholesterol. Many people don't know that their cholesterol level is too high. 

High blood cholesterol is diagnosed by checking levels of cholesterol in your blood. It is best to have a blood test called a lipoprotein profile to measure your cholesterol levels. Most people will need to “fast” (not eat or drink anything) for nine to 12 hours before taking the test. 

The lipoprotein profile will provide information about your:

  • total cholesterol
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol: the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
  • HDL (good) cholesterol: the good cholesterol that helps keep cholesterol from building up in arteries
  • triglycerides: another form of fat in your blood.

If it is not possible to get a lipoprotein profile done, knowing your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol can give you a general idea about your cholesterol levels. Testing for total and HDL cholesterol does not require fasting. If your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or more, or if your HDL is less than 40 mg/dL, you will need to have a lipoprotein profile done.

Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood. See how your cholesterol numbers compare to the tables below.

Total Cholesterol Level

Total Cholesterol Category

Less than 200 mg/dL


200-239 mg/dL

Borderline high

240 mg/dL and above



LDL Cholesterol Level

LDL Cholesterol Category

Less than 100 mg/dL


100-129 mg/dL

Near optimal/above optimal

130-159 mg/dL

Borderline high

160-189 mg/dL


190 mg/dL and above

Very high


HDL Cholesterol Level

HDL Cholesterol Category

Less than 40 mg/dL

A major risk factor for heart disease

40 - 59 mg/dL

The higher, the better

60 mg/dL and above

Considered protective against heart disease


Triglycerides can also raise your risk for heart disease. Levels that are borderline high (150-199 mg/dL) or high (200 mg/dL or more) may need treatment. Things that can increase triglycerides include:

  • overweight
  • physical inactivity
  • cigarette smoking
  • excessive alcohol use
  • very high carbohydrate diet
  • certain diseases and drugs
  • genetic disorders.

For additional information:

  • Discuss with your physician.
  • Contact Affinity NurseDirect at 1-800-362-9900 toll-free, (920) 738-2230 in the Fox Cities, or (920) 231-6578 in Oshkosh.

From your Internet connection:

then click on Health Resources
then click on Affinity's 22 Tips for Better Health

Or access the following links:


Adapted from: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and National Institutes for Health (NIH) 
Reviewed: 1/07
Reviewer: rfc

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