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What do my cholesterol test results mean?


Once you've had your blood cholesterol test, what do the numbers mean? Interpreting your results isn't as straightforward as you might think. Each number takes on a different meaning in relation to the others. In addition, other risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking, family history, and diabetes, can affect the meaning of your results. Don't try to interpret your test results yourself. Write down your numbers so you have a record of them. Talk with your doctor about what your numbers mean for you.

The National Cholesterol Education Program and the American Heart Association base their recommendations on whether you have risk factors for heart disease.

See Recommended Cholesterol Levels for Healthy Individuals if both of the following are true for you.

  • I do not have coronary heart disease, and I do not have diabetes.
  • And, less than two of the following statements are true for me.
    • I am a man age 45 or older.
    • I am a woman age 55 or older.
    • I have a family history of heart disease.
    • I smoke.
    • I have high blood pressure.
    • I have an HDL level less than 40 mg/dL.
See Recommended Cholesterol Levels for People at Risk for Heart Disease if either of the following is true for you.
  • I have coronary heart disease, or I have diabetes.
  • Or, two or more of the following statements are true for me.
    • I am a man age 45 or older.
    • I am a woman age 55 or older.
    • I have a family history of heart disease.
    • I smoke.
    • I have high blood pressure.
    • I have an HDL level less than 40 mg/dL.


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