Total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL and over as well as LDL cholesterol levels of 160 mg/dL and over are considered high, according to the National Institutes of Health. Total cholesterol levels of 200 to 239 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol levels of 160 to 189 mg/dL are considered borderline high.
Factors that affect cholesterol levels include the level of an individual’s physical activity, weight, eating patterns, age, gender and family history, as explained by the National Institutes of Health. Low physical activity contributes to heart disease risk, and if performed regularly, it lowers LDL cholesterol levels. A higher body weight is usually associated with higher total and LDL cholesterol levels, and it also contributes to heart disease risk. Eating foods containing cholesterol and saturated fats raises blood cholesterol levels, and this is especially true for saturated fats.
Higher age is associated with higher blood cholesterol, as the National Institutes of Health reports. Women’s LDL levels are particularly likely to rise after menopause. Additionally, a family history of high blood cholesterol can increase the likelihood of an individual also developing high levels.
High blood cholesterol strongly increases the risk of heart disease, as the National Institutes of Health warns. Cholesterol is present in the blood, and if the quantity present is too high, it can stick to the walls of arteries, reducing the amount of blood flowing through them. If enough cholesterol lines their walls, the arteries eventually become blocked, cutting off blood supply to the heart.
Cholesterol levels should be tested via a blood test at least once every five years for all patients over age 20, states WebMD. This is true even if a patient currently has no symptoms of high cholesterol.