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For a cholesterol screening, your doctor may recommend a non-fasting cholesterol test or a fasting cholesterol test. A non-fasting cholesterol test will show your total cholesterol level and may also determine your HDL cholesterol. A fasting cholesterol test, called a lipid profile or a lipoprotein analysis, will measure your triglycerides, LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol.

Your doctor may start with a non-fasting lipid panel test and then recommend a lipid profile, based on your results.

Doctors recommend your cholesterol stay below 200 and triglycerides less than 150. Here is the breakdown:

Total Cholesterol Category
Less than 200 Desirable
200 - 239 Borderline High
240 and above High


How Can I Lower My Cholesterol and Reduce My Risk of Heart Disease?

To lower your cholesterol and triglyceride and reduce you risk of heart disease, you should:

  • Eat low cholesterol foods. The American Heart Association recommends that you limit your average daily cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams. If you have heart disease, limit your daily intake to less than 200 milligrams. People can significantly lower their cholesterol and triglyceride levels by keeping their dietary intake of saturated fats low and by avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking lowers HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. This trend can be reversed if you quit smoking.
  • Exercise. Exercise can result in weight loss. Being overweight or obese leads to an increase in triglyceride levels and a decrease in HDL cholesterol. In people who are inactive, HDL is typically low. Exercise and physical activity increases HDL cholesterol in some people. Even moderate-intensity activities, if done daily, can help control weight, diabetes, and high blood pressure -- all risk factors for heart disease.
  • Take medication as prescribed by your doctor. Sometimes making changes to your diet and increasing exercise is not enough to bring your cholesterol down. You may also need to take a cholesterol-lowering drug.
  • People with high triglycerides may need to substitute monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats -- such as those found in canola oil, olive oil or liquid margarine -- for saturated fats.


What Drugs Are Used to Treat High Cholesterol and triglycerides?

Cholesterol-lowering drugs include:

  • Statins
  • Fibrates
  • Niacin
  • Bile-acid resins
  • Ezetimibe

Cholesterol-lowering medicine is most effective when combined with a low-cholesterol diet. Fibrates are best at lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be used to treat people with very high triglyceride levels.


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