Lipid levels should be measured on fasting blood samples. Based on multiple studies, the following guidelines for blood lipid levels are recommended by the National Cholesterol Education Program:

Total Cholesterol:

less than 200 mg/dl – desirable

200 – 239 mg/dl – borderline high – the risk of heart disease may increase two-fold

240 mg/dl and higher – high – the risk of heart disease is substantially increased



less than 200 mg/dl – normal

200 – 400 mg/dl – borderline high

400 – 1000 mg/dl – high

greater than 1000 mg/dl – very high


LDL Cholesterol:

less than two risk factors and no coronary heart disease

below 160 mg/dl


two or more risk factors and no coronary heart disease

below 130 mg/dl


high risk markers (diabetes, peripheral vascular disease)

below 100 mg/dl


coronary heart disease (prior heart attacks, angioplasty, or heart surgery)

below 70 mg/dl


HDL Cholesterol:

Women – over 40 mg/dl

Men – over 35 mg/dl

A more sophisticated subtype analysis of lipid levels is now commercially available and should be discussed with your physician for unusual clinical circumstances.

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