Crestor® (rosuvastatin calcium)

Managing Cholesterol

Managing Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance, also called a lipid, that's produced by the liver. It's also found in foods high in (glossary term)saturated fat, like fatty meats, egg yolks, shellfish, and whole-milk dairy products. It’s a vital part of the structure and functioning of our cells. However, high levels of cholesterol in your blood may lead to the slow (video)plaque buildup in the (glossary term)arteries over time, a serious progressive disease called (video)atherosclerosis.

A Closer Look

So how can something your body needs be harmful? Well, not all cholesterol is considered bad. There are three main components doctors evaluate when you have a blood test to check your cholesterol levels. They look at (video)bad (LDL) cholesterol, (video)HDL (good) cholesterol, and another substance called (glossary term)triglycerides. Having the right levels of each is healthy.

But, the fact is that cholesterol can be harmful to your health when there’s too much of it in your blood. Whether you have high cholesterol may depend on your lifestyle. Eating a lot of fats and not getting enough exercise can cause cholesterol levels to rise. Cholesterol is also, in part, a result of your genetic makeup.

Everyone with high cholesterol needs to keep it under control, but it may be even more important for some groups of people, who have additional risk factors. Additional risk factors include:

If you fall into any of the groups above, you may be at increased risk for plaque buildup in your arteries. As plaque gradually builds, it can cause arteries to narrow. So your doctor may want you to get your cholesterol levels lower compared to someone who has high cholesterol alone. It's important to discuss all your risk factors when considering your cholesterol-management plan.

What’s Your Cholesterol Goal?

Managing high cholesterol may be different for you, depending on your medical history and your health. Your doctor will look at the results of your cholesterol test, also known as a (glossary term)fasting lipid profile, and, using this information along with your medical background, establish a cholesterol goal for you. Always ask what your cholesterol numbers mean, based on your complete health history, so you can work together with your doctor to manage your cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol Guidelines

National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines recommend that all adults over age 20 have a cholesterol test at least once every 5 years. Take a look at the guidelines below to get a better idea of where your cholesterol levels should be.

Total cholesterol level
  • Less than 200 mg/dL
  • 200-239 mg/dL
  • 240 mg/dL or higher
  • Desirable
  • Borderline high
  • High
Total cholesterol is the level of all of the lipids in your blood, including your LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol. Generally, a lower total cholesterol level is better.
  • Less than 100 mg/dL
  • 100-129 mg/dL
  • 130-159 mg/dL
  • 160-189 mg/dL
  • 190 mg/dL or higher
  • Optimal
  • Near optimal/above optimal
  • Borderline high
  • High
  • Very high
LDL-cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because if you have too much LDL-cholesterol in your bloodstream, it can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries over time, known as atherosclerosis. Generally a lower LDL-cholesterol level is better.
  • 60 mg/dL or higher
  • Less than 40 mg/dL
  • High
  • Low
HDL-cholesterol is considered the "good" cholesterol because it helps return cholesterol to the liver, where it can be eliminated from the body. Generally, a higher HDL-cholesterol level is better.

  • Less than 150 mg/dL
  • 150-199 mg/dL
  • 200-499 mg/dL
  • 500 mg/dL or higher
  • Normal
  • Borderline high
  • High
  • Very high
Triglycerides, like cholesterol, are another substance that can be dangerous to your health. Like LDL-cholesterol, you want to keep your triglycerides low.

Source: National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP)

Depending on your overall health profile, your doctor may recommend that you have your cholesterol levels followed more closely.

It’s important to manage your cholesterol and reach your goals, because if you don’t, your high cholesterol may contribute to plaque buildup in your arteries.

>  Learn more about plaque buildup

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Saturated fat
Saturated fats are usually found in animal products, including fatty meat and dairy products, and are usually solid at room temperature. However, they are also found in some vegetable oils, including coconut and palm oils.
Artery or arteries
Arteries are relatively thick-walled blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. They play a major role in the function of the cardiovascular system.
Triglycerides are another fat produced by the liver and also found in food. Like high cholesterol, they can be dangerous to your health. As a rule, you want to keep your triglycerides low.
Fasting lipid profile
Also known as a cholesterol test, this is used to determine your levels of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. You will be asked to fast before you have a test to measure your blood cholesterol level. This means you have nothing to eat or drink—except for water—for 9 to 12 hours before the test.