Cholesterol is not the same as fat. It is a waxy substance made in the liver and found in foods of animal origin, such as meat, eggs and dairy products. The body needs some cholesterol in order to function properly. Cholesterol is important to build and maintain cell walls and produce various substances such as hormones, vitamin D and bile acids. The body only needs a small amount of cholesterol to meet its needs, and when too much is present, health problems such as heart disease may develop.
Total cholesterol level:
- Less than 199 mg/dL is desirable
- 200 – 239 is borderline high
- Greater than 240mg/dL is high
A variety of factors can affect your cholesterol levels:
- Certain medications and medical conditions
LDL cholesterol can accumulate on the walls of arteries, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. This is why LDL cholesterol is commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol. The lower the LDL cholesterol number, the better. The following numbers reflect LDL cholesterol levels.
|LDL Cholesterol Result||LDL Cholesterol Category|
|Less than 100||Optimal|
|190 and higher||Very High|
HDL cholesterol is commonly referred to as “good” cholesterol. The higher the HDL cholesterol number, the better. HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease by taking “bad” cholesterol out of the blood and keeping it from accumulating in the arteries. The following numbers reflect HDL cholesterol levels.
|HDL Cholesterol Result||HDL Cholesterol Category|
|60 and higher||Optimal: helps to lower the risk of heart disease|
|Less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women||Low: considered a risk factor for heart disease|
Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food and in the body. In some people, a high triglyceride level has been linked to the occurrence of coronary artery disease. The following numbers reflect triglycerides levels.
|Less than 150||Normal|
|500 or higher||Very high|
Everyone over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every 5 years.
When you donate blood, the non-fasting cholesterol test will show your total cholesterol. If your total cholesterol is high, you should consider discussing the result with your doctor for recommendations. Your doctor may repeat the cholesterol measurement in your blood after having you fast for several hours.
Please keep in mind that if you are going to donate blood you should always have something to eat and drink before donating. This is important to reduce the risk of not feeling well or having minor complications after donating. The non-fasting cholesterol measurements are only intended to provide you with a general sense of your levels and should not be used to replace follow-up testing by your doctor if you are found to have high cholesterol.