10 March 2006


I lifted the following from the website of the American Heart Association:
Your total blood cholesterol level
Your total blood cholesterol will fall into one of these categories:
Desirable—Less than 200 mg/dL
Borderline high risk—200–239 mg/dL
High risk—240 mg/dL and over
Here is some more explanation about each of these categories.

If your total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL, your heart attack risk is relatively low, unless you have other risk factors. Even with a low risk, it's still smart to eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and also get plenty of physical activity. Have your cholesterol levels measured every five years—or more often if you're a man over 45 or a woman over 55.

Borderline high risk
People whose cholesterol level is from 200 to 239 mg/dL are borderline high risk. About a third of American adults are in this (borderline) group; almost half of adults have total cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dL.

Have your cholesterol and HDL rechecked in one to two years if:
Your total cholesterol is in this range.
Your HDL is less than 40 mg/dL.
You don’t have other risk factors for heart disease.
You should also lower your intake of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol to reduce your blood cholesterol level to below 200 mg/dL. Your doctor may order another blood test to measure your LDL cholesterol. Ask your doctor to discuss your LDL cholesterol with you. Even if your total cholesterol is between 200 and 239 mg/dL, you may not be at high risk for a heart attack. Some people—such as women before menopause and young, active men who have no other risk factors—may have high HDL cholesterol and desirable LDL levels. Ask your doctor to interpret your results. Everyone's case is different.

High risk
If your total cholesterol level is 240 or more, it's definitely high. Your risk of heart attack and stroke is greater. In general, people who have a total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL have twice the risk of coronary heart disease as people whose cholesterol level is 200 mg/dL.

You need more tests. Ask your doctor for advice. About 20 percent of the U.S. population has high blood cholesterol levels.
I received the results of my annual physical examination today. My total cholesterol is 115. My doctor wrote "fantastic!" I attribute it to two things: first, lifelong aerobic exercise (mainly bicycling and running); and second, a demi-vegetarian diet. As I've said many times in this blog, if you care only about yourself, and don't give a damn about animals, you'll eat very few animal products. I've had no dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream, butter, or yogurt) since 1972. I've had no red meat (i.e., meat other than chicken and fish) since 1981.

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