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High Blood Cholesterol

High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Your body needs some cholesterol, but if you have too much, it starts to build up in your arteries. In turn, this causes the hardening of your arteries, or atherosclerosis.

High cholesterol, and the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries, narrows your arteries to such an extent that it makes it harder for your blood to flow through them. It reduces the amount of blood that gets to your body tissues, including your heart, and this can lead to such problems as heart attack and stroke.

A simple blood test can tell you what your cholesterol levels are. We recommend that everyone age 20 and older test their cholesterol levels at least once every five years, since high cholesterol is a slow process that typically worsens as you get older. Your cholesterol numbers help your doctor predict your risk of heart attack and stroke. Your cholesterol numbers are also taken into consideration with other factors like your age, blood pressure, family history, and if you smoke.

What is "normal" cholesterol?

  • Best is less than 200
  • Borderline-high is 200 to 239
  • High is 240 or above.