Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is having high overall cholesterol necessarily bad?"
I recently had my cholesterol levels tested, and my results came back that my cholesterol is 250. I am a young, active, and healthy female. I have heard that there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. I understand that my ""good"" cholesterol levels are very high, as high as the levels of bad cholesterol, which is why my total cholesterol level is so high. Still, I'm concerned that my overall cholesterol levels should be lower. I already have a healthy diet and I am very fit, so a lifestyle change is unlikely to make much of a difference. Should I be concerned about my cholesterol levels, and if so, what should I do about it? Should I be taking medication to lower my cholesterol?
This is an important question to discuss with your primary care physician. As you stated in your question, cholesterol levels and how we interpret them depends on the levels of good and bad cholesterol. The total cholesterol is less important. The so-called good cholesterol is the HDL and we always want this to be as high as possible. In women, the general rule is that we want the HDL level above 50, but the higher the better. The bad cholesterols is called LDL and in general we want this to be as low as possible. If you are otherwise healthy and under the age of 60, we would prefer to your LDL to be under 160. If you have other health problems or if you are older, then we would like your LDL lower perhaps lower than 130 or even lower than 100. If you are going to pay attention to one number, it should probably be the LDL. If your LDL is greater than 160, it probably doesn't matter what your HDL is, you should work on getting your cholesterol lower. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. You and your doctor can discuss your numbers and see if anything needs adjusted. If your HDL and LDL are the same number, my suspicion is that you will be fine.
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