Cholesterol Levels Chart

High cholesterol is a common problem and in order to determine if you need treatment, your doctor will look at multiple numbers including your total levels as well as your HDL, LDL and triglyceride levels. In addition, your physician will consider your risk of having a heart attack as well as overall health. These tables should help you interpret and understand your cholesterol tests.

Here is an overview of cholesterol level.

Total Cholesterol

To determine if your total cholesterol is too high, you simply need to look at your total cholesterol number. If you suffer from high cholesterol, your doctor will determine the HDL and LDL levels before they decide if you need treatment as well as what type would be ideal.

Guidelines in U.S.

Guidelines in Canada


Less than 200 mg/dL

Less than 5.2 mmol/L


200 to 239 mg/dL

5.2 to 6.2 mmol/L

Borderline high

240 mg/dL and higher

Higher than 6.2 mmol/L


LDL Cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad cholesterol” so you want low numbers.

Guidelines in U.S.

Guidelines in Canada


Less than 70 mg/dL

Less than 1.8 mmol/L

Best for those with a very high risk for heart disease

Less than 100 mg/dL

Less than 2.6 mmol/L

Best for those with a risk of heart disease

100 to 129 mg/dL

2.6 to 3.3 mmol/L

Near ideal

130 to 159 mg/dL

3.4 to 4.1 mmol/L

Borderline high

160 to 189 mg/dL

4.1 to 4.9 mmol/L


190 mg/dL and higher

Higher than 4.9 mmol/L

Very high

HDL Cholesterol

The HDL cholesterol is considered “good cholesterol” so the number should be high. The goals vary by gender but in general, higher levels of HDL cholesterol are better. If you have HDL over 60, this will help protect you against heart attacks. HDL below 40, on the other hand, will increase your risk of developing future heart problems. If you have a high HDL number this can help counteract a high LDL level.

Guidelines in U.S.

Guidelines in Canada


Less than 40 mg/dL (men)

Less than 50 mg/dL (women)

Less than 1 mmol/L (men)

Less than 1.3 mmol/L (women)


40 to 49 mg/dL (men)

50 to 59 mg/dL (women)

1 to 1.3 mmol/L (men)

1.3 to 1.5 mmol/L (women)


60 mg/dL and higher

1.6 mmol/L and higher



Ideally, your level of triglycerides should be low.

Guidelines in U.S.

Guidelines in Canada


Less than 150 mg/dL

Less than 1.7 mmol/L


150 to 199 mg/dL

1.7 to 2.2 mmol/L

Borderline high

200 to 499 mg/dL

2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L


500 mg/dL and higher

Higher than 5.6 mmol/L

Very high


  1. Please keep in mind that the guidelines for Canada and Europe are slightly different from the ones for the U.S. The conversions in the above charts are based on United States guidelines.
  2. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the optimal triglyceride level is 100 mg/dL (which is 1.3 mmol/L) or less. They feel that this level is great for improving your heart health but do not recommend using drugs to achieve this level. Instead they recommend lifestyle changes including physical activity, weight loss and diet.
  3. When you talk to your doctor concerning your cholesterol results, it is likely you will also discuss other factors which increase the risk of heart problems such as family history of heart attack and high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.
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