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What is a Good Cholesterol Score?

All of the egg's cholesterol is found in the yolk.
Doctors often recommend exercise to lower cholesterol.
People with poor diets are more at risk of a high cholesterol score.
Low levels of cholesterol indicate that blood can flow freely throughout the body.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 June 2014
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There are three ways to evaluate cholesterol score, which are often used in concert with each other. Measurements typically taken to determine cholesterol score include total cholesterol, and individual cholesterol measurements for high-density lipoproteins or HDL and low-density lipoproteins or LDL. When these measurements are read together, the doctor has the best way of determining your cholesterol score and cholesterol health. Testing may also include an evaluation of triglyceride level.

When evaluating total cholesterol level, the desired cholesterol score should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). A score between 200-239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a score of 240 mg/dL or above is high. Many physicians suggest patients try to aim for a cholesterol level of about 150-180 mg/dL, by modifying diet and pursuing exercise. When this can be accomplished, the total cholesterol score is considered safe and nowhere near borderline high.

LDL measurements tend to measure the “bad” cholesterol that is most likely to lead to disease. So in this case you are looking for a low number. A good cholesterol score of LDL is between 100-129 mg/dL. A score under 100 mg/dL is considered optimal. An LDL cholesterol score of 130-159 mg/dL is borderline high, 160-189 mg/dL is high and 190 mg/dL is very high. With the LDL measurement and the total cholesterol measurement, you want to see these numbers lower, instead of high.

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In contrast, HDL cholesterol score is better when the number is higher. This is the “good cholesterol” our body needs — it keeps total cholesterol and LDL numbers down. A good cholesterol score for HDL is 60 mg/dL or better. 40 mg/dL or lower is considered a risk factor for developing heart disease.

Doctors may measure triglyceride levels when blood cholesterol score is computed. Generally a good score for triglycerides is less than 150 mg/dL. Physicians also look at the whole health picture when measuring cholesterol. For example, a person with a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease is more at risk from levels approaching borderline. People with poor diet, extra weight, and who don’t pursue an active lifestyle also run greater risk of heart disease from a high cholesterol score.

In most cases when a cholesterol score is borderline, a doctor will help the patient by suggesting a modified diet and an exercise plan. Patients are also advised to quit smoking as this can lower HDL and raise LDL. If cholesterol score is high, doctors may need to begin medications to lower the score, while also recommending specific diet and exercise plans to address the condition.

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Discuss this Article

anon955467
Post 22

I hate to tell everybody, but having normal cholesterol won't keep you from having a heart attack. When I had mine my cholesterol was 136 good ratio of good to bad and I didn't have high blood pressure. Family history matters more than anything.

anon946268
Post 21

I have 196 total cholesterol; 102 HDL; 70 LDL. Is this OK?

anon939530
Post 20

My total cholesterol is 207 but my HDL is 79. Should I be concerned?

anon937783
Post 19

Holy mother of god but there are some really ignorant posts on here spreading more disinformation, and then there's what these 'experts' are trying to say in the article.

First of all, there is such a thing as good cholesterol and bad. LDL is bad, HDL is good. And now doctors are finding there are even different kinds of LDL. Look it up and you will find it.

Discovering there are different kinds of bad cholesterol might help explain why some people with a high LDL and a poor HDL never get sick from it and someone else just a few points above the target max number with LDL and a good HDL drops dead from clogged arteries.

Anyway, here is what I’ve learned the past few years from my cholesterol journey. I’m sure it will help others who happen by this article and my comments.

The first time I had a cholesterol reading was in my mid 40s. The LDL was 151, the HDL was 36. The rest of my bloodwork and everything else was perfect, just a high LDL and low HDL. My doc discussed the numbers with me but I really didn’t want to be saddled down with a drug like what they give for this and she said that I needed to work on at least getting the HDL up. She said if the HDL is high it offsets what can be a bad LDL score. Of course that is not a free ticket to not try and get your LDL down but, as she explained it, the HDL helps move the LDL out of your bloodstream (I’m sure it does other things, I'm trying to explain this simply). She felt that perhaps my LDL was high from my family genes but said she’d let me try to work it out with diet and exercise first.

Through changing some of the stuff I ate, I got my LDL to 124 and my HDL to 48. The LDL number was still a bit high bit the HDL number was really good.

I recently had a sudden emergency operation. It was a nissen fundoplication (full wrap) for a hiatal hernia that went Paraesophogeal (my entire stomach slide into my chest cavity and twisted 180 degrees). That was a serious operation and three days shy of two months later, I’ve make an astounding recovery. I’m back on my normal diet, soda, etc. Phenomenal (though a five pound pick up, pull, push, carry weight limit until August! Arg). But, up till a week and a half ago I was on a soft diet. Everything I ate was either baked or nuked or boiled.

My wonderful GP ordered a blood workup. My LDL was 104 (hey, not below 100 but in that range where it’s O.K.) and my HDL was 40. So O.K., the bad went down as well but the good did too. (That’s O.K. I can fix that with diet and yes, you can get your HDL numbers up with what you eat).

I’m happy and she’s happy, but I kept thinking on how my bad cholesterol got so good and then it dawned on me: with the exception of like three McDonald’s burgers (nothing else just them) and two whoppers with cheese, I’ve had nothing at all fried whatsoever in nearly two months. So for me, that was the problem. I know cheese is a problem with cholesterol, but I’m too much of a cheese nut to let it go, so I was working on upping my HDL over lowering my LDL, never realizing the whole time the root of it (for me at least) was the fried food I was eating. I don’t mean eating out, but cooking good southern food. I changed the oil to canola or real extra virgin olive oil and it was helping, but not enough.

So for me, at least from here on out, fried foods are a treat and that’s that. As for how to get your HDL numbers up? You can look all over the internet for foods that are proven to raise HDL numbers but garlic, ground up fresh flax seeds (must be ground up and eaten when you grind it. Their health benefits deteriorate just hours after grinding them up. And you have to eat them ground up as opposed to eating them whole. What’s in them that helps you, your body can’t get through the shell to utilize. I also think cinnamon helps as well. There are other things that help. The internet is your friend.

So, to anyone reading this: watch the amount of fried food/grease in home cooked meals or eating out. Eat more of the foods that do raise your HDL, drink plenty of fluids and of course, exercise never hurts either. Even walking is good enough!

anon925266
Post 18

@T2Dnomore: Do please get your facts straight before contributing to the misinformation you're carping about. Folks, do some homework on your own. Look on reputable medical websites to find out what you need to know.

anon351064
Post 16

I have an hdl score of 141. The doctors say they have never seen it that high. They did not believe me so I got it retested and to my knowledge, it was right. They say it is excellent and I do not know what I did to get it that high.

anon342891
Post 15

Your good cholesterol is suppose to be around 46,

and your bad cholesterol is supposed to be 100 or lower. Triglycerides do not mean a thing. Any heart specialist will tell you this.

Do not take any kind of statins. Statins can kill you!

anon330340
Post 14

My hdl cholesterol is 89 mg/dl and my ldl is 90. Please tell me if I am normal.

anon306700
Post 12

My HDL is 46, with an LDL of 136 and triglycerides of 89. Is this level of cholesterol manageable without medicine?

T2Dnomore
Post 11

There seems to be a lot of misinformation about cholesterol - what it is, what it does, what is a 'normal' level.

The first point is that cholesterol is just one molecule. There is no 'good' and 'bad' cholesterol, just cholesterol.

Secondly, our bodies make cholesterol and it is used for a wide range of processes. Why would our bodies make something that is harmful to them? Answer, they don't. Cholesterol is not harmful, it is essential.

The third point concerns how much is 'healthy' Here it seems we have a choice: do we want to live a long time, or do we want to change what is written on our death certificates?

There is a list of diseases - and death rates - that are increased by having a low cholesterol level.

Putting all the data together, I can't see why anyone over the age of 40 would want a cholesterol level less than about 250 mg/dl (6.5mmol/l).

anon116392
Post 10

The 8 score is a sub-class score of HDL. This score should be above 10. A medication like simcor would be something to help raise this score. The test that returns this 8 score on the sub class of HDL is a more advanced in depth cholesterol test that breaks down the LDL and HDL score into sub-categories. It is not a score most of us are used to seeing from the standard cholesterol test.

Kim Willis-Thompson
Post 9

My husband's score was an 8. I have never heard of this scale before is it something new. I do know an 8 is very bad. But can anyone tell me about the scale.

anon88389
Post 7

I have always had total cholesterol consistently below 110. My bad cholesterol level is about 75 while my good cholesterol is about 35. I am trying to reverse these numbers but my doctor states that since my levels are so low it should never be a problem. I am hoping that a very low number is not a problem. Can a score be too low?

anon83018
Post 6

How does someone raise an HDL of 32? LDL is 79 and Triglycerides are 133 and total cholesterol is 144. Person is diabetic with A1c of 6.1.

anon74073
Post 5

I got my blood drawn on a general health screen and I received a call from my doctor's office that he needed to see me about my cholesterol. It was 371 and he said that it could be the worst he had ever seen. So I am now taking 40 mg of pravastatin. I am going to try and do a little diet and exercise.

I am 30 6'5' and about 280 pounds, should be about 240 though. Hopefully I can get it under control. I think it runs in my family.

anon71338
Post 4

i have a friend whose cholesterol score is 8 and he has to take meds. what does having an 8 score mean?

anon55775
Post 3

A good reading is anything less than 3. I had a physical today, and my doctor explained the rating system, which is a five point scale. 1 is great, and 5 is bad. The scale considers the bad (LDL) and the good (HDL) types of cholesterol.

You husband needs to get the medicine, which is probably a statin. Longer term he might want to 1) improve his diet, 2) loose weight, 3) not smoke, 4) exercise at least 30 minutes/day and 4) moderate his drinking. 1-4 might not do much as cholesterol levels are partly determined by one's genetics.

anon35677
Post 2

my husband cholesterol is 5 doctor told him it was high wants him to take tablets.what is a good reading,

eastwest
Post 1

My parents eat the same food basically and the only difference is that my dad smokes and my mom doesn't, so his cholesterol score should be much higher (for bad cholesterol, anyway). But his is actually much much lower - somehow he got lucky enough to be able to eat almost anything and never have problems with cholesterol, while my mom has to be really really careful and still has a really high cholesterol score.

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