Unfortunately, most physicians today still consider a "normal cholesterol" level to be under 200. The average American's cholesterol is 210-220. However, these levels predict a 50% chance of dying prematurely from strokes or heart attacks due to atherosclerosis and diseased arteries. Heart disease is very rare in patients who have cholesterol levels below 150 and LDL below 90. For example, heart disease is extremely rare in those living in rural China, where the average total cholesterol level is 127 with LDL levels under 80. Cholesterol levels for most patients hospitalized for heart attacks is 170, with most occuring within the range of 150-200, which is below the American Heart Association's desired range of below 200. The evidence is indisputable; elevated cholesterol levels significantly raise the risk of cardiac events associated with cornoary artery disease. Newer studies show that lower cholesterol levels are needed in order to reduce the number of cardiac deaths, although fewer than 10% of Americans actually have levels that would meet the new recommendations.
For more details, see: Desirable Cholesterol Numbers