Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. The liver produces about 75% of the cholesterol that circulates in our blood. The other 25% comes from food. At normal levels, cholesterol actually plays an important role in helping cells do their jobs. 
High cholesterol does not cause any symptoms. But it damages within the body. Over time, too much cholesterol may lead to a buildup of plaque inside the arteries known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis narrows the space available for blood flow and can trigger heart disease.

Adults should check their cholesterol levels at least once every three years. This test is called as  fasting lipoprotein profile. It measures the different forms of cholesterol that are circulating in the blood after you avoid eating for nine to 12 hours. The results show your levels of "bad" cholesterol, "good" cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Most of the cholesterol in the blood is carried by proteins called low density lipoproteins or LDL. This is known as the bad cholesterol because it combines with other substances to clog the arteries. High in saturated fats and trans fats tends to raise the level of LDL cholesterol.

LDL less than 100 mg/dL is optimal.

LDL100 to 129 mg/dL is near-optimal.

LDL between 130 and 159 mg/dL is borderline high.

LDL cholesterol between 160 and 189 mg/dL is high.

LDL 190 mg/dL or more is considered very high.

Up to a third of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoproteins or HDL. This is called good cholesterol because it helps remove bad cholesterol, preventing it from building up inside the arteries. The higher the level of HDL cholesterol, the better. Eating healthy fats, such as olive oil, may help boost HDL cholesterol.

HDL 60 mg/dL or higher is good -- it protects against heart disease.

HDL between 40 and 59 mg/dL are acceptable.

Less than 40 mg/dL HDL is low, increasing the risk of heart disease.

The body converts excess calories, sugar, and alcohol into triglycerides, a type of fat that is carried in the blood and stored in fat cells throughout the body. People who are overweight, inactive, smokers, or heavy drinkers tend to have high triglycerides, as do those who eat a very high carb diet. A triglycerides score of 150 or higher puts you at risk for metabolic syndrome, which is linked to heart disease and diabetes.

Normal levels: Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter

Borderline high:150 to 199

High: 200 to 499

Very high: 500 or more

Total Cholesterol
Total cholesterol measures the combination of LDL, HDL, and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) in your bloodstream. VLDL is a precursor of LDL, the bad cholesterol.

200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or less is considered normal.

201 to 240 mg/dL is borderline.

Greater than 240 mg/dL is considered high.

Cholesterol Ratio

Cholesterol ratio = Total cholesterol 
                               HDL cholesterol

Eg:  A total score of 200 divided by an HDL score of 50 equals a cholesterol ratio of 4 to 1.

Doctors recommend maintaining a ratio of 4 to 1 or lower. The smaller the ratio, the better. While this figure is useful in estimating heart disease risk, it's not as important in guiding treatment.


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