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What Should My Cholesterol Numbers Be?

cholesterol guidelines

When I was growing up, at 11 p.m. every night, at least one of the local news channels in Pittsburgh put an announcement on the air, "Do you know where your children are?"
It was a not-so-subtle reminder for the parents out there to do a quick check on their kids.
Are you one of those kids from that time frame?
Even if you don't remember that question being asked, another question might be just as relevant to you:
Cholesterol chart
Do you know what your cholesterol numbers are?
Do you know how easy it is to find out what they are?

Who Loves Challenges?

If you get to know me, you would find that I LOVE challenges. As passionate as I am about knowing what your blood pressure is, I had NOT taken the time to keep track of my cholesterol numbers. In fact, I don't remember having them checked since 1999 when I worked for a city government where they had a self-challenge for employee wellness.
I've had it on my mind that it was something I should do. So when I received an email from Sam's Club saying there would be a FRE.E health screening, I decided to jump at the chance to get my cholesterol checked.
 I knew what my blood pressure was averaging, but this was also a chance to check to make sure my blood pressure monitor was coming up with the same numbers as the one the professionals use.
Good news there – my Omron was right on the mark! By the way, I noticed that the nurse was also using an Omron monitor.
As it turns out, Sam's Club has free health screenings just about every month. That's where the fun challenge comes in.
When you know when the next health screening is, it makes it more interesting to challenge yourself to see how much better your numbers can be next time!
cholesterol-lowering foods

How to Prepare for a Cholesterol Test

The hardest part is remembering not to eat breakfast that morning! 

To prepare for a cholesterol test, it is recommended that you fast for 9 – 12 hours before the test. You can have water, but it's best to stay away from coffee, tea, and other beverages.
If you forget and have something to eat, all is not lost. On the form that you fill out at the screening, they give you an option: Did you fast or did you not fast?
A recent study that was done regarding the value of fasting vs non-fasting showed that results of cholesterol tests were similar whether there was fasting or not.
Researchers say there is about a 2% difference between fasting and not fasting, which is not significant for most people. If you are on cholesterol medications, it may be better for you to go ahead and do the 9 – 12 hour fast.

4 Cholesterol Numbers to Watch

There are four numbers to watch when it comes to your cholesterol reading.    
Happy, Healthy GOOD Cholesterol – a higher number means lower risk
The most common type of fat in the body
Total Cholesterol
Total Cholesterol is:  LDL + HDL + 20% of your Triglyceride level

What Cholesterol Numbers Should I Aim For?

Aim for less than 100
Near optimal: Between 101 – 129
Borderline High: 130 – 159
High: 160 – 189
Very high at 190 and above
Aim for 60 or more
Low (considered a risk factor) – less than 40
Aim for less than150
Borderline high:  150 – 199
High: 200 – 499
Very high: 500 +
Aim for: Less than 200
High risk: greater than 240

Where Can I Get My Cholesterol Checked?

It should be easy for you to find a place to get a cholesterol reading. In the United States, many drug stores have clinics that you can either make an appointment or just go in. It may be a good idea to call ahead to see which they prefer you to do.
Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy are both options. Both Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy allow you to pay for a health screening, which runs about $65. CVS offers free health screenings, but according to a call I just made, they are usually held in the summer.
cholesterol health screeningI also made a call to Sam's Club (my favorite store…can you tell?) and asked if you need to be a member in order to take advantage of their free health screenings.
The good news is…..no, you do not need to be a member. So if you have a Sam's Club near you, give them a call to see when they will have that available for you. I usually get a text about every two months letting me know they are having a free health screening.
The pharmacy at Costco said that they have free health screenings a couple times a year. If you have a Costco in your area, just give them a call to see what they might have coming up.
One other option you might want to consider is the health screenings through Lifeline Screening. When you go to their website, they will ask a few questions in order to know what kind of screenings are recommended. Then they will give you a list of places in your general area that are having screenings in the next two or three weeks. 

What I love about Lifeline Screenings is that they can actually do a screening of your arteries to see if there is plaque forming inside your arteries!
Lifeline has screenings for just about everything you can imagine, from heart health to lung cancer screening, osteoporosis, prostate cancer, thyroid disease, vitamin D screening and much, much more. There is a cost, but sign up to get their emails and they will send you discount codes and the nearest times and locations to choose from.

And no, I am NOT an affiliate of Lifeline Screening, Sam's Club, Walgreen's or CVS Pharmacy. Just giving you good info!
And last but definitely not least, you can always get your cholesterol checked by a visit to your doctor.

Can I Check My Cholesterol at Home?

There are cholesterol tests that you can do yourself at home, but from looking at the reviews about their accuracy, personally I would be very careful about which one to purchase. If you really want to go this route, there are home test kits sold either by Solana Health or the Multicare/PrimaCholesterol Test Strips. 
High cholesterol foods

To be honest, the reviews on the Solana Health tests kits aren't that great though, although there are both 5 stars and 1 star reviews.
For those of you in other countries, I would suggest doing a search for health screenings in your area. From what I can tell, it looks like Lifeline may have screenings in the U.K., so there is a possibility of other countries as well.
The main thing is to keep informed. The more you know, the healthier you can be!

What Should My Cholesterol Numbers Be?