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Cholesterol and Triglycerides Tests

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

There is very little chance of a problem from having blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your health professional before your blood sample is taken.

Results

Cholesterol and triglyceride tests are blood tests that measure the total amount of fatty substances (cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood.

Results are usually available within 24 hours.

The values listed here are for adult cholesterol levels. Desirable cholesterol and triglyceride levels are slightly different for children and teens. For more information, see Cholesterol in Children and Teens.

Cholesterol and triglycerides 1

Total cholesterol

Desirable:

 

Borderline high:

  • 200–239 mg/dL
  • 5.2–6.2 mmol/L

 

High:

  • 240 mg/dL or higher
  • 6.2 mmol/L or higher

HDL cholesterol

High (desirable):

  • 60 mg/dL or higher
  • 1.6 mmol/L or higher

 

Acceptable:

  • 40–60 mg/dL
  • 1.0–1.6 mmol/L

 

Low (undesirable):

  • Less than 40 mg/dL
  • Less than 1.0 mmol/L

LDL cholesterol

Optimal:

  • Less than 100 mg/dL (less than 70 mg/dL for people at high risk for a heart attack)
  • Less than 2.6 mmol/L (less than 1.8 mmol/L for people at high risk for a heart attack)

 

Near optimal:

  • 100–129 mg/dL
  • 2.6–3.3 mmol/L

 

Borderline high:

  • 130–159 mg/dL
  • 3.4–4.1 mmol/L

 

High:

  • 160–189 mg/dL
  • 4.1-4.9 mmol/L or higher

 

Very high:

  • 190 mg/dL or higher
  • 4.9 mmol/L or higher

VLDL cholesterol

Optimal:

  • 30 mg/dL or less
  • 0.78 mmol/L or less

Triglycerides

Normal:

  • Less than 150 mg/dL
  • Less than 1.7 mmol/L

 

Borderline high:

  • 150–199 mg/dL
  • 1.7–2.3 mmol/L

 

High:

  • 200-499 mg/dL
  • 2.3-5.6 mmol/L

 

Very high:

  • 500 mg/dL or higher
  • 5.6 mmol/L or higher
  • An HDL level of 60 mg/dL (1.5 mmol/L) or higher is linked with a lower risk of heart disease.
  • An HDL cholesterol level less than 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L) raises your risk for developing heart disease, especially if you also have high total cholesterol levels.
  • The ratio of total cholesterol to "good" (HDL) cholesterol may be important, especially if total cholesterol is high.
  • Very high cholesterol and triglyceride levels may be caused by an inherited form of high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia or hyperlipidemia).
  • Talk with your doctor about other things that raise your risk of heart problems. Your doctor may change your goals for cholesterol levels if you have other risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as:
    • Smoking.
    • High blood pressure.
    • Diabetes.
    • Family history of early CAD.
    • You are a man and older than 45, or you are a woman and older than 55.
  • If you have a very high risk of having a heart attack, your doctor may want your LDL level to be less than 70 mg/dL.
Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack? calculator.gif

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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or
Answer:
Desirable
0-199
Borderline
200-239
High
240+

Your level is currently

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal.

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is borderline high. If your LDL goes higher, your total cholesterol level could become Borderline High. Consider reducing the amount of foods you eat with saturated fats and increasing physical activity. If you get more exercise, your level of "good" HDL cholesterol may increase, which could also help to keep your levels of LDL and total cholesterol in check.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL. The HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL because the HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

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