Know the Numbers!

Lipid levels should be measured on fasting blood samples. Based on multiple studies, the following guidelines for blood lipid levels are recommended by the National Cholesterol Education Program:

Total Cholesterol:

less than 200 mg/dl - desirable

200 - 239 mg/dl - borderline high - the risk of heart disease may increase two-fold

240 mg/dl and higher - high - the risk of heart disease is substantially increased



less than 200 mg/dl - normal

200 - 400 mg/dl - borderline high

400 - 1000 mg/dl - high

greater than 1000 mg/dl - very high


LDL Cholesterol:

less than two risk factors and no coronary heart disease

below 160 mg/dl


two or more risk factors and no coronary heart disease

below 130 mg/dl


high risk markers (diabetes, peripheral vascular disease)

below 100 mg/dl


coronary heart disease (prior heart attacks, angioplasty, or heart surgery)

below 70 mg/dl


HDL Cholesterol:

Women - over 40 mg/dl

Men - over 35 mg/dl

A more sophisticated subtype analysis of lipid levels is now commercially available and should be discussed with your physician for unusual clinical circumstances.