Health Topics by Barbara A. Horner-Ibler, M.D.

As a patient of mine, you will receive letters from me about blood test results. That letter will likely refer to some of the following terms:

Cholesterol Testing/ Fasting Lipid Panel -
HDL, "H" is for "healthy" and "high." This is the good cholesterol. The higher, the better. For women, the level should be >50; for men, >40. Exercise is one of the only ways to increase this level. There are no medications to do that.
Goal: >50 for women, >40/men.

LDL, "L" is for "lousy" and "low." This is the bad cholesterol and contributes to heart disease. The goal is for this level to be less than 100, particularly in those situations where the invidual already struggle with diabetes or hypertension.
Goal: the lower the better.

Triglycerides should not be high. They will be <150 in most situations. If they are significantly high (>200), we may need to begin looking for diabetes. Sometimes elevated Triglycerides are the first sign of that problem. If Triglycerides begin to climb even higher (to>800, the individual is at risk for spontaneous pancreatitis.
Goal: <150.

Total Cholesterol - All of the above measurements of fractions of cholesterol add together with conversion factors to create the total cholesterol.
Goal <200.

Hemoglobin A1C is a blood test done to measure the average blood sugars over the most recent 3 months. This is a blood test done every 3 months in people with diabetes. People without diabetes will have Hgb A1C’s in the <6.0 range. People with well-controlled diabetes will have Hgb A1C <6.5.

Thyroid Function Testing -
TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is the hormone from the brain that tells the thyroid how much to work and when to rest. If the thyroid is functioning well, the TSH is in the 0.35-5.0 range. If the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone, the TSH will be high, >5.0, a result of the brain telling the thyroid that it needs more hormone. If the thyroid is producing too much hormone, the TSH will be very low, <0.35.