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How High Is Your Cholesterol Level?

CDC: 1/3 of Adults Do Not Check Cholesterol Regularly
By
WebMD Health News

Feb. 10, 2005 -- Not enough adults are getting a simple test that could save their lives, the CDC says.

Only about two-thirds of the adult population routinely have their cholesterol level checked, according to a report in the CDC's Feb. 11 edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Heart disease and stroke are major causes of death in the U.S. Though there are many causes that contributed to these conditions, high cholesterol is one factor that can be treated.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in the body and in certain foods such as meat, oils, and eggs. High cholesterol has been linked to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

Routine screening can detect abnormally high levels of cholesterol, and people aged 20 and older should have their cholesterol checked at least every five years, according to the National Cholesterol Education Program.

Why Get Tested?

High cholesterol is defined as a total cholesterol level of 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher. Total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL is considered desirable.

Treatment includes eating a healthy, low-fat diet, exercising, and losing extra weight. Some people may also need cholesterol-lowering drugs.

But if people aren't tested, the problem goes unnoticed. Since high cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, ignorance is definitely not bliss.

Long Way to Go

By the year 2010, the federal government wants 80% of U.S. adults to meet cholesterol-screening guidelines. Lowering the percentage of adults with high total cholesterol to 17% and eliminating cholesterol gaps among racial and ethnic groups are also national goals for 2010.

America must make a lot of progress to meet those standards. At the CDC's last check, only about 63% of adults had had their cholesterol checked in the preceding five years.

That was as of 1999-2000, says the CDC. The numbers are based on a national survey of more than 8,100 adults aged 20 or older.

Who Gets Screened and Who Doesn't

Participants were asked if they had had their cholesterol checked within the past five years and if they had ever been told by a health professional that they had high cholesterol. They also reported whether they were taking cholesterol-lowering medications.

Older people were more likely than young adults to have had their cholesterol checked within the last five years. So were women. Compared with men, women were 1.2 times as likely to have had their cholesterol checked.

Blacks were 30% less likely than whites to have had their cholesterol measured in the previous five years. Even fewer Mexican-Americans had been screened. They were 57% less likely than whites to have had their cholesterol checked.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Is Your Cholesterol Level Heart Healthy?
What is your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) level?

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or
Answer:
Desirable
0-199
Borderline
200-239
High
240+

Your level is currently

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal.

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is borderline high. If your LDL goes higher, your total cholesterol level could become Borderline High. Consider reducing the amount of foods you eat with saturated fats and increasing physical activity. If you get more exercise, your level of "good" HDL cholesterol may increase, which could also help to keep your levels of LDL and total cholesterol in check.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL. The HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL because the HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

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