Understanding Cholesterol

By: Porter Regional Hospital Last Updated: August 4, 2012

Understanding-CholesterolFrom the Spring 2012 StayHealthy publication

"Beginning at age 20, everyone should have their cholesterol measured at least once every five years," said Omer Ansari, MD, Family Medicine Physician with Westchester Medical Group. "The best thing to do is have a test called a 'lipoprotein panel.' If you cannot get this test, at least you know your total cholesterol to give you a general idea about your health."

Made naturally in the liver, cholesterol is a waxy- fat-like substance that forms part of every cell in the body and serves many vital functions. Our bodies need cholesterol to maintain healthy cell walls and make hormones, vitamin D and acids that aid in fat digestion.

Unfortunately, our body can make more cholesterol than it needs, and it can build up and clog the arteries. Clogged or blocked arteries increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. "We recommend regular cholesterol checks, because patients may have high cholesterol and not realize it," Ansari explained. "But, it can be controlled, and the patient's risk for serious problems can be reduced."

"More than half of American adults have LDL levels that are too high," said Ansari. "The good news is with diet, exercise, and perhaps medication, cholesterol can be brought under control." Ansari went on to say that for every one percent a person lowers his or her LDL, the risk for heart disease is reduced by two percent.

When you receive the results of lipoprotein panel, you will receive three numbers:

1. Total Cholesterol

Total Cholesterol Level What it Means
Less than 200 mg/dL Good Level
200-239 mg/dL Borderline High
240 mg/dL and above High Cholesterol

2. LDL (Bad Cholesterol)- the main source of cholesterol buildup and artery blockage

LDL Cholesterol Level What it Means
Less than 100 mg/dL Optimal Level
100-129 mg/dL Slightly Above Optimal
130-159 mg/dL Borderline High
160-189 mg/dL High Cholesterol
190 mg/dL and above Very High Cholesterol

Visit the Porter Health System website
Valparaiso Campus
814 LaPorte Avenue
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Phone: 219-263-4600

3. HDL (Good Cholesterol)- helps keep cholesterol from building up in arteries

The higher the number the better, because it protects against heart disease. Greater than 60 is desirable.

Dr. Ansari is a member of the medical staff at Porter. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Ansari, call 219.926.2133.