Starting at the age of 20 you should be getting your cholesterol levels tested every five years. Most people do not start looking at these numbers until their 40's and often by then it is too late. If you are able to get a good idea of your cholesterol numbers earlier in life you have more time to do something about it.
In order to test your cholesterol your blood will be drawn and a test called a lipoprotein profile will be taken. In this test there are three things that will be measured. One is the LDL average cholesterol level. LDL stands for low density lipoprotein and this is what is often referred to as the bad cholesterol. The other level is the HDL average cholesterol level. HDL is the high density lipoprotein level and this is often referred to as the good cholesterol. The third number is your triglycerides which is a measure of fat in your blood stream and is used to determine your overall artery health.
The overall score is broken down like this:
- Less than 200 is optimal
- 200-239 is borderline
- 240 and above is high
The LDL numbers are broken down into several different categories. There is not a clear pass or fail when it comes to the average cholesterol level and LDL. Of course the lower this number is the better your cholesterol will be, but it is not as simple as that.
Here is how the average cholesterol level is broken down for the low density lipoprotein:
- Less than 100 is optimum
- 100 – 120 is above optimal
- 130-159 is borderline
- 160-189 is high
- 190 and above is very high or high risk
Of course, if you have other health complications there are special scores that need to be paid attention to. For example, if you have heart or blood diseases your LDL average cholesterol level should be under a score of 70. If you are dealing with diabetes a score of less than 100 is important.
The HDL average cholesterol level is actually much more straight forward. Overall you want this number to be higher because the HDL is considered good for you. The high density lipoprotein cholesterol will actually help to protect your heart and move the bad cholesterol through your arteries.
Here is how the average cholesterol level is broken down for the high density lipoprotein:
- 60 or above is high to optimal
- For women less than 50 is low
- For men less than 40 is low
The triglycerides are also an important number to pay attention to. This is another number that you want to be low. Often higher scores in this measurement can lead to artery disease and other serious heart disorders.
Here is how the average triglycerides are broken down:
- Less than 150 is normal
- 150 – 199 is borderline
- 200-499 is high
- 500 or higher is very high or dangerous