So, needless to say, we should all be keeping tabs on this situation regularly. If your doctor hasn't suggested this test to you already, then you should probably find a new doctor. Go and make him or her do this test, and make sure that (s)he tests total cholesterol as well as LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels. If you are over 20 years old and don't currently suffer from heart disease or a related disease or condition, then the following levels will apply:

Total Cholesterol – in milligrams per deciliter (a tenth of a liter) of blood

    Desirable less than 200 mg/dl
    Borderline between 200-239 mg/dl
    Death Wish over 240 mg/dl

If you are in the "borderline" category, you should be taking immediate action if more than one of the following risk factors also applies to you:

    - Cigarette smoking
    - Low HDL cholesterol
    - High blood pressure (should be watching sodium intake)
    - Diabetes
    - Overweight
    - Physically inactive
    - Family history of heart disease
    - Men who are over 45
    - Women who are over 55

For the LDL cholesterol level, less than 130 mg/dl is desirable. For the HDL level, anything over 60 mg/dl is what you want. There is no hard data on acceptable triglyceride levels (it ranges from 250-500 mg/dl), but your doctor will be able to advise you if it is high enough to be considered a CHD risk factor.

If your levels are in the "high/death wish" category, or you are subject to several risk factors, you are going to have to take action now to prevent yourself from becoming part of the 50% statistic. Even if your levels are fine, the average North American could benefit from eating a heart healthy diet. Too often we try to treat symptoms once they hit us, when we should try to be more preventative, proactive, and pre-emptive. Stop the problem before it starts.