Cholesterol and Cholesterol Levels

A soft fat-like substance found in all body cells. It is important in the healthy body because it helps to build certain body tissues. However, when a person has too much cholesterol in the blood, it increases a person’s risk of having a heart attack by building up in the arteries, calcifying, and leading to arteriosclerosis, also called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Cholesterol is mostly produced in the human liver, and is found in animal foods, especially egg yolks, organ meats (like liver and kidney) fatty meats and whole milk and other dairy products. Vegetables do not contain cholesterol. Because cholesterol cannot dissolve in the blood, it is carried, or transported, by other substances called lipoproteins. Low density lipoprotein (or LDL-cholesterol) is also called the “bad” cholesterol. When the LDL level is too high, it can slowly build up in the arteries and combine with other substances to form plaques (hard coatings) that can block the arteries feeding the heart and brain.

This process is known as arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis, and can lead to a heart attack or stroke. High-density lipoprotein or HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because a high level seems to protect against having a heart attack. The reverse is also true. In other words, a low HDL level increases the risk of heart attack.


Know Your Blood (Serum) Cholesterol Numbers
Number What it Means
Below 200mg/dl Desirable
200 mg to 239mg/dl Normal to high normal
240 mg/dl and over High