Cholesterol levels estimate how quickly you're developing heart disease because of hardening of the arteries (artherosclerosis). There are no symptoms for high cholesterol. Adults should have a cholesterol screening every 5 years or as recommended by their doctor.
A blood test, which measures how many milligrams of cholesterol there are in 100 millilitres of blood serum, can alert your doctor to dangerous build-up of sticky LDL cholesterol on artery walls.
Adding together your LDL and HDL cholesterol readings gives a total cholesterol level, which should be under 200 mg/dl. Someone with a low risk of heart disease or stroke will have less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol in one decilitre of blood.
Cholesterol screenings monitor LDL cholesterol levels, which should be under 100 mg/dl, and HDL cholesterol levels which should ideally be around 60 mg/dL.
To help keep your cholesterol numbers under 200mg/dl, which is the highest number in the low risk range, eat a healthy diet with lots of fibre and exercise at least 30 minutes each day.
Total cholesterol levels are considered borderline high if they're between 200-239 mg/dl. If the total cholesterol number is 240 mg/dl or higher, you are at high risk of heart disease or stroke. Your doctor can prescribe medication to bring the numbers down within normal range.