Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is produced in the liver and used in a variety of processes by the body. Your age, sex, weight, diet, exercise habits, and family history affect your cholesterol level. Generally speaking, having a diet high in saturated fat, being overweight, and being physically inactive will tend to raise your cholesterol level. A high blood cholesterol level is strongly related to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. Total cholesterol is considered to be ideal when it is below 200 mg/dl and high when greater than 240 mg/dl. There are two major types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL.
- HDL means high-density lipoprotein. HDL is often called the good cholesterol because high levels of HDL are associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease. An HDL cholesterol level less than 35 mg/dl is considered a risk factor for heart disease.
- LDL means low-density lipoprotein. LDL is often called the bad cholesterol because high levels of LDL are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. LDL is considered to be at an ideal level when it is below 130 mg/dl and is considered high when it is greater than 160 mg/dl.
- Total/HDL ratio is calculated by dividing the total cholesterol value by the HDL value. For example, if your total cholesterol level is 200 and your HDL is 50, your Total/HDL ratio is 200/50=4.0. The higher the ratio, the greater risk of coronary heart disease.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. Extremely high levels of triglycerides may be related to an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Glucose is your blood sugar. Glucose level of 110 mg/dl or higher may indicate a diabetic tendency or actual diabetes according to recent guidelines from the American Diabetes Association.