Heart Disease Facts
- Having high blood cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
- Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs. But, when you have too much in your blood, it can build up on the walls of your arteries. This can lead to heart disease and stroke.
- Approximately one in every six adults—16.3% of the U.S. adult population—has high cholesterol. The level defined as high total cholesterol is 240 mg/dL and above. People with high cholesterol have approximately twice the risk for heart disease as people with lower levels.
- If you have heart disease, lowering your cholesterol can reduce your risk for having a heart attack, needing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty, and dying from heart disease. Even if you do not have heart disease, you can reduce your risk of developing it by lowering your cholesterol. This is true even if you have normal cholesterol levels.
- There are steps you can take to prevent high cholesterol or to reduce your levels. These actions include exercising, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking.
- High cholesterol does not have symptoms. As a result, many people do not know that their cholesterol is too high. Doctors can do a simple blood test to check your levels. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults get their cholesterol checked every 5-years.
|Desirable Cholesterol Levels|
|Total cholesterol||Less than 200 mg/dL|
|LDL ("bad" cholesterol)||Less than 100 mg/dL*|
|HDL ("good" cholesterol)||60 mg/dL or higher|
|Triglycerides||Less than 150 mg/dL|