Your cholesterol level is a real-life example of "good cop vs. bad cop." Good cholesterol -- known as HDL -- can help keep down your risk of heart attack and stroke, while bad cholesterol -- known as LDL -- can contribute to heart disease. Lifestyle choices, such as proper nutrition and regular exercise can help you pump up your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and lower your LDL (the low-density variety) [source: American Heart Association].
So what's the best way to know if you need to examine your lifestyle choices or take precautions against high levels of LDL? Get your cholesterol tested. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality advises all men 35 and older to have their cholesterol checked. That said, the agency alerts men who have other health issues to get checked at age 20 and above. Examples of these issues include tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes, history of heart disease or a male family member who had a heart attack before 50 or a female family member who had a heart attack before 60. Consult with your doctor on how frequently you need to get tested [source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality].