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  Cholesterol Testing  
  Because there is often a strong correlation between elevated levels of blood cholesterol and heart disease, most healthcare providers consider cholesterol blood testing an extremely valuable diagnostic tool.  
  Cholesterol is associated with a group of fatty substances called lipids that move through the bloodstream attached to proteins. When the lipid and the protein join, they become a molecule called a lipoprotein. Cholesterol is associated with different lipoproteins, all of which have different effects on cardiovascular health.
  A high level of bad cholesterol and other blood lipids is most often associated with arteriosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits on arterial walls that often leads to heart attacks. Coronary artery disease is also associated with a high blood cholesterol reading.  
  Measuring cholesterol actually involves three blood fats:  
  • Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol (also called "bad" cholesterol)
  • High density lipoprotein, or HDL cholesterol (also called "good" cholesterol)
  • Triglycerides.
  In evaluating a person's cholesterol ,triglycerides and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol.  
  Most doctors consider that:  
  • A total cholesterol level of 200 or above is high and is usually necessary to monitor patients carefully using regular testing and therapy.
  • A reading of 160 to 200 is considered borderline, or high if other cardiac risk factors, like a family history of heart disease, are present. And a reading below 160 is low and therefore desirable.
  High cholesterol levels usually occur in mid life, but abnormally high cholesterol levels can occur in any age group, even in infants, if blood lipid abnormally runs in the family. If you are concerned about your risk for heart disease, ask your doctor to check cholesterol level; and if your cholesterol level is too high for good health, ask to recommend a diet and exercise program that will help bring your cholesterol level down.  
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