How To Understand What Your Cholesterol Numbers Mean

How To Understand What Your Cholesterol Numbers Mean

ok – so you want to understand what your cholesterol numbers mean. Makes sense! They’re important! Especially if you worry about your health and don’t exactly know what cholesterol means and why it matters.

Everyone over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol measured at least once every five years. All it takes is a blood test called a “lipid profile” from your doctor. Along with blood pressure, it’s one of the most important things to check to determine heart health.

If you’re a man over 35 or a woman over 45, you should get your cholesterol levels checked more often.

So what goes into a lipid profile? I’m glad you asked!

Your lipid profile will show you:

How To Read Your Lipid Profile And Understand Your Cholesterol Numbers

  1. Your lipid profile will show you your total cholesterol.
  2. Your triglyceride levels (these are fats in your bloodstream that come from the foods you eat. Any extra calories, sugar, and alcohol get turned into triglycerides and carried through the body to fat cells.
  3. Your hdl cholesterol levels (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, this is the good kind of cholesterol)
  4. Your ldl cholesterol levels (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, this is the bad kind of cholesterol)

how to read your lipid profile and understand your cholesterol numbers

When your doctor gets the results of your lipid profile back, it’ll be in the form of numbers. These numbers tell you everything you need to know about your cholesterol levels – but not everything you need to know about your overall health (1).

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That’s because cholesterol levels are just one part of the larger picture of how healthy your heart is. Based on your cholesterol levels and other factors, you and your doctor can come up with a strategy for keeping your heart healthy (2).

But enough about that – you want to know what those numbers mean! Onwards!

What Do Your ldl Numbers Mean?

The reason why ldl cholesterol is considered “bad” cholesterol is because it can build up on the walls of your arteries, which increases your risk of heart disease (3). A lower ldl number is better.

An ldl level of 190 or more is regarded as a very high level. At that level, doctors prescribe a statin to bring that number down as well as eating better.

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As for levels lower than 190, it’s up to your doctor to take into account other factors in your life for assessing your risk of heart disease.

What Do Your hdl Numbers Mean?

When you’re looking at your hdl numbers – the opposite of the rule about ldl numbers is true… you want a higher number.

hdl cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol because it works to remove ldl cholesterol from your blood and prevent it from gunking up your arteries. Again, the higher the number for hdl , the better.

What Do Your Triglyceride Numbers Mean?

When we talk about fat in the body, we’re mostly talking about triglycerides. Most of the fat in your body is in the form of triglycerides, and high levels of them mean high risk of heart disease.

Here’s the deal – if you’ve got triglyceride levels of less than 150, that’s great, totally normal. If your levels are from 150-199, that’s high, but not extremely high. If your levels are 200-499, they’re high, and you should take action with your doctor. Any level above 500 is extremely high and requires immediate action.

That’s it! Now you can understand the results of your cholesterol test just as well as your doctor (actually, probably not. I hope not, anyway.)

19 comments… add one
  • Lindsay Whitehead September 27, 2015, 11:10 am

    I get mine checked at least one time per year. It is a good goal to keep in mind when you are thinking of your health.

  • Amberly Jackson September 26, 2015, 9:20 am

    Thank you for the easy explanation. This is something I never really got the grasp about.

  • Mandy Pace September 25, 2015, 8:46 am

    There are many ways to lower that number once you get it figured out and I can see many of them posted on this blog.

  • Ashley Foreman September 24, 2015, 8:52 am

    Cholesterol killed my grandparents so I am afraid that it is genetic, could that be possible?

    • Viola Snoddy September 26, 2015, 9:29 am

      Of course. Look it up online, you could be in trouble yourself.

  • Jasmine Castro September 24, 2015, 8:42 am

    Great tips and this is something that we all should keep an eye on so it is in the front of our minds as we get older…

  • Carmen Schriver September 22, 2015, 12:43 pm

    I never understand those numbers. I just hope my doctor does not know that and can just tell me I’m doing good or bad, so that I can adjust.

  • Kim Brown September 18, 2015, 2:29 pm

    These numbers are hard to get a grasp on at first. Thank you for the explanation.

  • Betty Thorpe September 18, 2015, 2:06 pm

    So, getting the lipid profile completed is a great way to see what your blood is all about?

    • Tisha Honig September 27, 2015, 11:19 am

      I think so. That is what I am getting out of this.

  • Maria Coulson September 17, 2015, 9:54 pm

    Cholesterol is one that can kill you quickly. Thank you for explaining these confusing numbers!

  • Jean Patton September 17, 2015, 9:44 pm

    The doctor is going to be on you if there is something wrong, but that might only be to get you on a pill. We all know that you do NOT need to be on a pill to lower these numbers!

  • Amanda Ingram September 16, 2015, 12:22 pm

    Cholesterol can kill you so quickly. Keep an eye on it!

    • Maria Bailey September 22, 2015, 2:04 pm

      that is right. there is so much information regarding how much cholesterol can be bad for you. it should be one of things that you pay attention to about your body!

    • Ashley Hunt September 25, 2015, 8:57 am

      Yes it does and good point!

  • Pamela Taylor September 15, 2015, 10:12 am

    Thanks for clearing this up for me. I have never worried about the numbers since I figured my doctor would just let me know if something was not right.

  • Kathleen Torres September 15, 2015, 10:02 am

    These numbers can be very confusing, unless you know what they mean :) I just ask the doctor, “are these good numbers?”

  • Lillie Smith September 14, 2015, 11:27 am

    Cholesterol is not an easy one to understand, that is for sure. I think you did a great service by outlining it here. Great work!

  • Jennifer Klein September 14, 2015, 11:15 am

    I would say these numbers are some of the most import in your life. These and any lotto numbers that might go your way :)

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