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Any new thinking on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels?

Is there any new thinking on cholesterol levels? What does HDL and LDL mean and what are the optimum levels? Is measurement of total cholesterol relevant anymore?

HDL and LDL stand for high and low density lipoprotein, respectively.  They are carrier molecules which transport cholesterol around you body.  Low levels of HDL (good cholesterol) or high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.  The optimum level depends on other risk factors.  A patient with a previous heart attack should have a LDL < 70, whereas 160 might be fine for someone who is truly healthy.  Measurement of total cholesterol is relevant because some of our most important prevention data comes from following total cholesterol.  Lowering cholesterol is most beneficial in patients with established cardiovascular disease or in high-risk asymptomatic individuals.

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