The “good” cholesterol in your body is high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol. It’s highly desirable to have an elevated level of HDL because it carries “bad” cholesterol to the liver, where it is then removed from your system. A helpful way to think about HDL is as a maintenance or cleaning crew that searches for and expels the cholesterol that causes clogged arteries. Keeping your HDL at a favorable level significantly reduces the risk of coronary artery disease. Reference ranges for this biomarker are indicated here:
When it comes to HDL cholesterol, most doctors agree that the higher the number, the better off you are. However, not all HDLs are created equal. Too much of the wrong type of HDL may mean that you are not reaping its cardio-protective benefits. An unfavorable ratio of triglycerides to HDL can also signal a problem, which is why the ratio is included on the lipid profile panel. A ratio of 1 to 1 is ideal, 2 to 1 is considered good, and 3 to 1 is satisfactory. If a blood test indicates that your ratio may pose heart risks, your physician will recommend an appropriate treatment. In general, a high level of HDL cholesterol is considered a key marker of good health. Low numbers, though, can raise your risk of chronic disease even if your other cholesterol levels are “normal”. If your HDL level is not where it should be, getting to the root of the problem is the first step.