Guenther von Eye, MD,Cardiology. Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Rio Grande do Sul State University Medical School (UFRGS).

Blood fats – lipids – are mainly composed by cholesterol, HDL cholesterol (called good cholesterol), LDL cholesterol (called bad cholesterol) and triglycerides.

The American Medical Association insists that normal cholesterol levels must be below 200 mg% and that HDL cholesterol must be above 35 mg%.

The table of the Massachusetts General Hospital of Boston adopts as normal levels, for different age groups, the following:

Total cholesterol:

Under 29 years of age below 200 mg%
from 30 to 39 years of age below 225 mg%
from 40 to 49 years of age below 245 mg%
over 50 years of age below 265 mg%

For HDL cholesterol, normal values are:

Men from 30 a 70 mg %
Women from 30 mg% to 90 mg%

For LDL cholesterol

men and women 50 mg% to 190 mg%

The risks for cardiovascular disease related to the level rates of lipids in the bloodstream, formulated by the AMA are:

Cholesterol below 200 mg% and HDL cholesterol above 34 mg%
  If there are no further risk factors, the chance for cardiovascular disease is relatively low. The individual must repeat tests every 5 years and should follow recommendations in order to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Cholesterol below 200 mg% and HDL cholesterol above 35 mg%.
  Firstly, LDL cholesterol has to be checked out and a doctor must consulted with on what to do next. Secondly, other risk factors must be managed; thirdly, physical activity must be increased.
Cholesterol between 200 and 239 mg% and HDL cholesterol above 34 mg%, and fewer than 2 risk factors.
  This situation can double the chances for cardiovascular disease. Those included in this group must initially correct other risk factors; secondly, they must manage cholesterol every 2 years; and, thirdly, they should try modifying their diet and increase physical activity, basically. Not all individuals presenting these levels really are under threat of cardiovascular disease. Talk to your doctor about it.
Colesterol total de 200 a 239 mg %, HDL Colesterol menor do que 35 mg % e mais do que dois fatores de risco.
  In this case, the individual may have a chance for cardiovascular disease twice as high, as well as people below 200 mg%. LDL cholesterol must be checked out and the doctor consulted with for advice on how to manage it and what measures to take. Also, other risk factors must be managed, the diet must be adjusted and physical activity increased.
Cholesterol above 240 mg%.
  The risk for cardiovascular disease is high and even higher if there are other risk factors. LDL cholesterol must be checked out, and the test must be shown to the doctor for interpretation. Your doctor will advise you on how to reduce this and other risk factors.