According to the latest cholesterol guidelines, HDL levels of 60 mg/dL and above is considered high. At this level, HDL is considered protective against heart disease.
By way of comparison, the average HDL cholesterol level for men is about 45 mg/dL; for women, it is about 55 mg/dL. Less than 10 percent of people over the age of 40 have high HDL.
In most cases, the cause of high HDL is not known. There does appear to be some genetic factor, as high levels are commonly seen within a number of family members. This can also be caused by:
- Regular alcohol use
- High levels of aerobic exercise (such as long-distance running)
- Estrogen medication
- Certain cholesterol medications (including statins, fibrates, and nicotinic acid)
- Primary biliary cirrhosis.
High HDL is more common in women than men. It is also more common in African Americans compared to Caucasians.
There are no cholesterol research studies that have noted any negative effects of high HDL. According to the most recent guidelines, the higher the levels, the better. Therefore, there are no treatment recommendations for high HDL.