I have been informed that my fasting cholesterol is too high at 243. However, the LDL level is 120 and the HDL is 123. I have also been told in the past that because my HDL is high I do not have to worry about my high cholesterol. Now the same doctor's office is telling me to get my HDL down to 99. Can I have too high of HDL? I thought it was a good thing? How did my HDL get so high? Thanks in advance for your assistance, Anita

Several things need to be taken into account when assessing cholesterol levels. These include age, family history, smoking and hypertension. It is good that you are aware of your cholesterol levels and following a healthy diet and exercising can help improve your levels. According to the American Heart Association, a desirable level for total blood cholesterol would be less than 200 mg/dL. An optimal level for LDL (bad) cholesterol is less than 100 mg/dL (your level of 120 would be considered “near optimal/above optimal” ). You are correct that higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol are better. An HDL cholesterol level of 60 mg/dL or higher is considered protective against heart disease. HDL levels can be increased by avoiding tobacco smoke, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity more days than not. Most of the literature that I can find states that there is no such thing as an HDL level that is “too high”. However, to be on the safe side, I would recommend that you speak directly with a cardiologist.

As previously stated, a healthy lifestyle can help to lower cholesterol levels. Limiting foods with saturated fat (red meat, butter, whole milk) and trans fats (baked goods, potato chips, snack foods, fried foods) can help your numbers. Increasing your intake of soluble fiber (oatmeal, sweet potatoes, bananas), nuts, fatty fish can also help get your cholesterol levels in a healthy range.

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