The implications of a cholesterol level of 144 mg/dL depend on the specific type of cholesterol. Your body makes two major types of cholesterol: LDL cholesterol is the so-called bad cholestero,l and you want this to be low, whereas HDL cholesterol is the so-called good cholesterol, and you want this to be high, but not too high.
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A blood LDL cholesterol of 144 mg/dL is considered borderline-high; in fact, any LDL cholesterol above 130 mg/dL is considered a risk factor for heart disease. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III categorizes LDL levels into five groups based on progressive risk: less than 100 mg/dL is optimal; 100 to 129 is near optimal/above optimal; 130 to 159 is borderline high; 160 to 189, high; and above 190 mg/dL, very high.
High density lipoprotein, or HDL, commonly thought of as the good kind of cholesterol, supports cardiac health by attaching itself to free, circulating fatty acids in the bloodstream and helping to flush them out. In a normal, healthy individual, HDL should be at or above 60 mg/dL to confer protection against heart disease. An HDL level of less than 40 mg/dL is a risk factor for heart disease.
Extremely High HDL Cholesterol
Very high HDL levels are suggested to have an atherogenic, or harmful, effect; however, the pathology of this relationship is unclear. Some people, such as those of Japanese ancestry, can be genetically predisposed to having extremely elevated HDL cholesterol. Other factors that elevate HDL concentrations include chronic alcoholism, oral estrogen replacements and extensive aerobic exercise as well as niacin, statins or fibrates. On the other hand, smoking reduces levels of HDL cholesterol, while quitting smoking leads to a rise in the plasma HDL level.
Additional Risk Factors
Besides high LDL and low HDL cholesterol, other risk factors for heart disease include cigarette smoking; hypertension; low HDL cholesterol, which is less than 40 mg/dL; family history of premature coronary heart disease; and age, specifically men older than 45 years and women older than 55 years.