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.