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.
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.