What Do the Results of a Cholesterol Test Mean?

There are many things you can do to keep your heart healthy. One of them is to keep an eye on your cholesterol numbers. If you are 20 years of age or more, the American Heart Association suggests that you get your cholesterol and any other factors that may put you at risk of a heart attack tested every 4 to 6 years. What does the result of a cholesterol test mean? The test shows your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood. The results of the test can help the doctor determine your chances of having a stroke or heart attack within the next 10 years or for your lifetime.

What Do the Results of a Cholesterol Test Mean?

What is cholesterol? The fat-like waxy substance is made by your liver but also comes from specific foods like certain types of meats. If your cholesterol levels are too high, they can harden as plaque inside of your arteries. The narrowing of your arteries is called atherosclerosis, which makes it difficult for the flow of blood to reach your heart. So, it is very important to know what your cholesterol readings are and what they indicate:

Your total cholesterol equals the total of all the cholesterol in your blood. The high level represents a higher risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.

Total cholesterol


Desired number

Lower than 200 mg/dl


Between 200-239 mg/d

High risk

240 and over

Your HDL cholesterol is looked at as the “good” cholesterol. Known as high density lipoprotein, it actually helps to cut down on the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries that cause the openings of the arteries to narrow.



Increased the risk of heart problems:

When the number is less than 40 mg/dl for men; or less than 50 mg/dl for women;

Offering some protection from heart problems

When the number is higher than 60 mg/dl

The high number of LDL or the “bad” cholesterol, also called low density lipoprotein, causes a higher chance of developing narrow blood vessels and poses a risk of heart diseases.



Very good

Less than 100 mg/dl


Between100 - 129 mg/dl:


Between130 - 159 mg/dl


Between160 - 189 mg/dl

Very high

Between 190 mg/dl and higher

 Another type of fat that can be found in the bloodstream is called triglycerides. If this number is too high, it can create a higher chance of having narrowed arteries.




Less than 150 mg/d


Between 150 - 199 mg/dl


Between 200 - 499 mg/dl 

Very high

Higher than 500 mg/dl

What Affects Your Cholesterol Levels?

Now that you have known "What do the results of a cholesterol test mean?", let's know a number of things that can have an effect on your cholesterol, including:

  • Your diet: If you eat foods that contain trans fats, saturated fats and cholesterol, they will definitely increase your cholesterol levels. Try to cut down on the consumption of these fats, especially saturated and trans fats.
  • Your weight: Being overweight is not good for your health in general and can also increase your triglycerides which puts you at risk for heart problems. If you lose weight you may see your triglycerides could come down and your HDL could come up.
  • Exercises: If you want to bring your LDL down and bring your HDL up, you should exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Your age and gender: Just getting older will raise our cholesterol levels. Compared to men of the same age, women before menopause have lower total cholesterol, but their LDL levels rise and HDL drops after menopause.
  • Your genes: You may have high cholesterol just because it runs in your family.

How to Get Desirable Cholesterol Level Naturally

Knowing the answer to "What do the results of a cholesterol test mean?" is the first step. You should know how to manage the abnormal cholesterol levels. Even if your cholesterol level tends to run high, there are things you can do. A few lifestyle changes can get you back on track.

1. Eat Smart

You should find fats that are healthier, especially monosaturated fats. Remove trans fats from your diet because they raise the bad cholesterol and lower the good cholesterol. Choose low fat dairy products, lean meat, and healthier fats such as olive oil and canola oil. Eat foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids such as mackerel, salmon, and herring. Raise your level of soluble fiber by adding fruits, beans and oats to your diet.

2. Be More Active

Besides improving your overall health, exercise can have a major impact on your cholesterol levels. Even just a moderate amount of exercise can raise your HDL, the good cholesterol. You don’t have to join a gym; a quick walk at lunch time will do the trick.

3. Stop Smoking

Your health will improve in so many ways just by quitting smoking. Your HDL cholesterol level could improve, your blood pressure will come down and your heart rate will increase. Even if you smoked for a long time, within 15 years of quitting you will have lowered your risk of heart problems to the levels of a non-smoker.

4. Drop a Few Pounds

Being overweight is not a good thing for your overall health, including causing high cholesterol levels. A small change can help. If you drop just 5% to 10% of your current weight, it will help balance your cholesterol levels. Start small and change your eating habits. Add in some exercise and you will be there before you know it.

5. Drink in Moderation

It has been shown that drinking just one alcoholic beverage a day can result in a higher HDL cholesterol reading. If you do not drink, good and just keep it that way. But for those who do drink, limit it to one drink a day for women and two for men.

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