Manage Cholesterol

Managing your cholesterol is an important way you can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Know Your Numbers

The word cholesterol is often used to refer to a group of substances also called lipids. Keeping each of these in the desired range helps reduce your risk for several diseases.

It is important to know your cholesterol numbers. One in every 300 to 500 people have an inherited condition called Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH). Fewer than 10% of these individuals have actually been diagnosed, making them at-risk for early heart attacks. FH is treatable and can reduce the risk of heart disease. Be sure to discuss your Family Health History with your healthcare provider.

The only way to know if your cholesterol levels are normal is to get tested. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults age 20 or older have their cholesterol and other risk factors checked every four to six years, and work with their healthcare provider to determine their risk for heart disease and stroke.

Your healthcare provider can help you decide:

  • How often you need screenings.
  • What types of tests you need.
  • How to treat your risk based on your individual needs, including family history.
Desirable Levels of Cholesterol
Total Cholesterol Less than 200 mg/dL*
LDL (“bad” cholesterol) Less than 100 mg/dL
HDL (“good” cholesterol) 60 mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides Less than 150 mg/dL

*Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood.

Table source:

Risks Factors for High Cholesterol

Risks you can't change

Risks you can change

  • Using tobacco or being exposed to tobacco smoke
  • Carrying too much weight, especially around the waist
  • Not enough physical activity
  • Eating an unhealthy diet

Prevent or Manage High Cholesterol

  • Eat a healthy diet. Reduce saturated fat intake and avoid trans-fat.
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider.
  • If you are prescribed medication, follow your healthcare provider's instructions.