NANETTE K. WENGER, MD, FACC: The American Heart Association has put out a very exciting set of guidelines, and that is guidelines for cardiovascular prevention in women. And of course, you know that heart disease is the major health problem for American women, and we must institute prevention.
So what I tell all my women patients is that there are three numbers that they have to know, that their good cholesterol, the HDL cholesterol, should be more than 50; their bad cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol, should be lower than 100; and another blood factor, the triglycerides, should be below 150. So the three numbers you have to remember are 50, 100 and 150. And that's pretty much general.
If you’re perfectly healthy, and young, and have no other risk factors, you’re physically active, you’re not overweight, you don’t smoke, etc., possibly you can do with a higher cholesterol level. But in general, lower is better.