High Cholesterol

High Cholesterol

High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart and vascular disease.

Cholesterol and other fats (lipids) are carried in the blood along with certain proteins called lipoproteins. These are measured by a blood test called a lipid panel or profile. The lipids that are most often tested include:

Cholesterol: Your total blood cholesterol level should be less than 200 mg/dL. All the cholesterol you need can be made by your liver, but we also eat cholesterol in food. As your cholesterol rises above 200, your risk for heart attack and stroke also increases.

High-density lipoproteins (HDL): Known as the "good" cholesterol, HDL helps remove excess cholesterol from the body cells and tissues. Higher levels of HDL are linked with lower risk of heart attack. Desirable levels are greater than 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women.

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL): Known as the "bad" cholesterol, LDL causes the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. High levels may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Desirable levels are less than:

  • 160 mg/dL if you are at low risk for heart and vascular disease (0 to 1 risk factors)
  • 130 mg/dL if you have two or more risk factors
  • 100 mg/dL if you have cardiac or vascular disease or are a diabetic

Triglycerides: Transported in the blood, triglycerides are broken down for energy. Sugar, alcohol and saturated fat in foods may increase triglyceride levels. Normal levels are less than 150 mg/dL.

To keep your lipid profiles within the needed range:

  • Follow a diet low in fat and cholesterol.
  • Maintain a normal weight.
  • Exercise.
  • Take needed lipid-lowering medicines, as prescribed.

Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, please call 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:

Referring Physicians
Open communication and cooperation with referring physicians is a critical component of achieving high-quality care and minimizing the challenges that come with treating cardiovascular conditions. For physician-to-physician consultation regarding the best patient care, please contact Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).


Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, please call 847.53.HEART (534.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:


Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, please call 630.232.0280

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:


Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central Kishwaukee Hospital, please call 815.748.5844

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:
Clinical trials conducted at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital: visit Clinical Trials Unit of Northwestern, send an email or call 312.926.4000.

Clinical trials conducted at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital: visit Northwestern Medicine Office of Research  or call 630.933.6528.

Related Resources

Learn more about reducing your cholesterol through lifestyle changes.