What Is a Cholesterol Test?
What Do Your Test Results Mean? continued...
Less than 100 mg/dL: A healthy level (if you have heart disease, your doctor may recommend an LDL of 70 mg/dL or lower.)
100 to 129 mg/dL: An almost healthy level
130 to 159 mg/dL: An almost unhealthy level
160 to 189 mg/dL: An unhealthy level
190 mg/dL and higher: A very unhealthy, dangerous level
HDL “good” cholesterol levels. This is the “good” cholesterol that helps keep the “bad” LDL cholesterol from building up inside your arteries. Unlike the other numbers from a cholesterol test, where a high number is dangerous to your health, with HDL, a high number is healthy, so that’s the result you want.
Less than 40 mg/dL for men: An unhealthy level
Less than 50 mg/dL for women: An unhealthy level
60 mg/dL or higher for men and women: A healthy level
Triglyceride levels. Your body makes this type of fat from the food you eat. High levels, in combination with either low HDL or high LDL, can clog your arteries. As with LDL levels, you want this number to be low:
Less than 150 mg/dL: A healthy level
150 to 199 mg/dL: An almost unhealthy level
200 to 499 mg/dL: An unhealthy level
500 mg/dL and higher: A very unhealthy, dangerous level
The Big Picture
Not everyone's target levels are the same. Your doctor will discuss your specific goals with you.
- If all your numbers are in healthy ranges, your doctor probably won't test you again for five years. Keep up the good work!
- If any of your numbers are in an unhealthy range, your doctor may suggest new diet and exercise habits to help you bring them in line. Often, small changes can have big results. If that alone doesn't work, your doctor may prescribe medicine.