Q: I am a post-menopausal woman with a high level of "good" cholesterol (HDL). I try to keep active. But my total cholesterol is 250 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter), higher than it should be. Should I be concerned?
A: The American Heart Association recommends that your total cholesterol level be less than 200 mg/dl because anything higher increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
With a cholesterol level of 250, it is important that you know your LDL ("bad" cholesterol) level. An LDL of less than 100 mg/dl is considered ideal.
Regular physical activity and a heart-healthy diet high in fruit, vegetables, and fiber-rich whole grain foods and low in saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol can help lower your blood cholesterol levels. When that's not enough, a statin or other cholesterol-lowering drug may be needed.
Jennifer H. Mieres, M.D., is director of nuclear cardiology and associate professor of clinical medicine at New York University. She’s also a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.