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    What Should My Total Cholesterol Level Be?

    A blood test is all you need to find out what your cholesterol level is.

    Your doctor may recommend that you fast for 8 to 12 hours before that test in order to measure your triglycerides, LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol. Or you may start with a test that shows your total cholesterol level without fasting.

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

    Doctors recommend your cholesterol stay below 200 and triglycerides below 150. Here's the breakdown:       

    Total Cholesterol


    Less than 200



    Borderline High

    240 and above




    Lifestyle Changes Can Help

    Many of the same things that help your diabetes also help to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides and protect your heart.

    Avoid saturated fat. Instead, use unsaturated fats, such as those found in canola oil, olive oil, or liquid margarine.

    If you smoke, quit. Lighting up lowers "good" HDL cholesterol. When you stop, it goes back up.

    Work on your weight. This helps bring down your “bad” cholesterol and higher triglycerides.

    Get exercise. Just 30 minutes of it a day can help boost your “good” cholesterol and improve diabetes, weight issues, and high blood pressure -- all risk factors for heart disease.

    Do I Need Medication?

    Sometimes, changing your diet and getting more exercise aren't enough to bring your cholesterol down. You may also need to take a cholesterol-lowering drug. These include:

    • Statins
    • Fibrates
    • Nicotinic acid
    • Bile-acid resins
    • Ezetimibe
    • High-dose or prescription fish oil supplements (to lower triglycerides)

    Remember: These meds work best when you also follow a healthy diet and are active.

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