13 Myths -- and Facts -- About Lowering High Cholesterol

About half of all Americans have cholesterol that's too high. Here's how to sort fact from fiction when it comes to managing yours (14 Photos)

Arricca SanSone on Nov 21, 2011 at 1:33PM

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13 Myths -- and Facts -- About Lowering High Cholesterol

Diane Macdonald/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

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Myth: The Only Number that Matters Is Your Total Cholesterol

Truth: While your total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL, each component (LDL, HDL, triglycerides) is just as important for determining your risk for heart attack and stroke. For example, if your total cholesterol is less than 200 but you have very low HDL, your body’s ability to fight off “bad” cholesterol is low. In this case, you’ll need to work on improving your numbers. Target ranges for LDL are 70-130 (lower numbers are better), 40-60 md/dL for HDL (higher numbers are better) and 150 or less for triglycerides. If your levels are normal, retest every five years. Retest sooner if your total cholesterol is more than 200, your HDL is less than 40, or you have other risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

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