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Middle-age tests: Cholesterol

September 07, 2000

Middle-age tests: Cholesterol



The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of National Institutes of Health recommends checking blood cholesterol - not just for people in middle age - but for those ages 20 and older at least every five years.

What is cholesterol?


It's a waxy substance found in all parts of your body. Cholesterol comes from two sources - your body and food. Your liver makes all the blood cholesterol your body needs. Eating too much dietary cholesterol - from meats, poultry, fish, egg yolks and whole-milk dairy foods - can increase blood cholesterol.

The bad, the good


In order for cholesterol to travel through your blood, it is coated with a layer of protein, making a lipoprotein.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Low-density lipoprotein - LDL - carries most of the cholesterol in the blood. Because it can lead to cholesterol buildup in arteries, it is called "bad" cholesterol.

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HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> High-density lipoprotein - HDL - helps remove cholesterol, so HDL-cholesterol is called "good" cholesterol.

What do the numbers mean?
HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> A desirable range of total blood cholesterol is less than 200 milligrams per deciliter.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Your cholesterol is considered borderline high if the range is from 200 to 239.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Cholesterol is considered high if it is higher than 240.

HDL cholesterol is considered low if the measure is less than 35.

- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Web site, www.nhlbi.nih.gov

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