High blood cholesterol occurs when there is too much cholesterol in your blood. Your cholesterol level is determined partly by your genetic makeup and the saturated fat and cholesterol in the foods you eat. Even if you didn't eat any cholesterol, your body would manufacture enough for its needs.
The risk of developing coronary heart disease increases as your blood cholesterol level rises. This is why it is so important that everyone over age 20 should have their blood cholesterol level measured every 5 years. Your doctor can measure your level with a blood sample taken from your finger or your arm and will confirm this result with a second test if your hdl is less than 40mg/dL or your Total Cholesterol is more than 200. A fasting blood test would then be used to test for Total Cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and Triglycerides.
The following breakdown can help you see how the results of your total blood cholesterol tests relate to your risk of developing coronary heart disease:
Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dl
Borderline High: 200 to 239 mg/dl
High: 240 mg/dl and above
A blood cholesterol level of 240 mg/dl or greater is considered "high" blood cholesterol. But any level above 200 mg/dl, even in the "borderline-high" category, increases your risk for heart disease. If your blood cholesterol is 240 mg/dl or greater, you have more than twice the risk of someone whose cholesterol is 200 mg/dl, and you need medical attention and further testing.
Currently, more than 50 percent of all adult Americans have blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dl or greater, which places them at an increased risk for coronary heart disease. Approximately 25 percent of the adult population 20 years of age or older has blood cholesterol levels that are considered "high," that is, 240 mg/dl or greater.
Optimal: Under 100mg/dL
Near optimal: 100-129mg/dL
Borderline High: 130-159 mg/dL
High: 160-189 mg/dL
Very High: 190mg/dL and over
HDL Cholesterol (HDL is protective and higher numbers are better)
Low: A level of 40mg/dL is considered low, and puts you at risk for heart disease.
High: A level of 60mg/dL or higher helps you lower your risk for heart disease
Levels above 200mg/dL, and possibly even above 150, may increase heart disease risk.