High Cholesterol - Exams and Tests
A blood test tells you if you have
What do your cholesterol numbers mean?
Your numbers help your doctor know your risk of getting heart disease or having a heart attack or stroke.
Your total cholesterol level is important. But your levels of
LDL, HDL, and triglycerides help your doctor decide if you need treatment for high cholesterol. Your doctor
will also consider your overall health and your risk of heart
attack. For more information, see the topic High Cholesterol Treatment Guidelines Based on Heart Attack Risk.
To learn about the results and numbers for cholesterol tests, see the topic Cholesterol and Triglyceride Tests.
Your total cholesterol number shows if your
cholesterol is too high.
|High||240 or above|
|Borderline-high||200 to 239|
|Best||Less than 200 |
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor will want
to know your LDL and HDL levels before deciding whether you need treatment and
what sort of treatment you need.
LDL (bad) cholesterol
You want your LDL level to be low. But how low your LDL should be depends
on your risk of heart attack.
Your doctor will help decide what your LDL goal is. The higher your risk of heart attack,
the lower your LDL goal.
HDL (good) cholesterol
You want your HDL level to be high. An HDL level of 60 or higher is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. A high HDL number also can help
offset a high LDL number.
Your risk level
When you visit your doctor to talk about your cholesterol
test, you will talk about other things that increase your risk for heart
problems. These include:
If your risk is high, or if you
already have heart problems, your doctor will be more likely to prescribe
medicine along with lifestyle changes.
To find out your risk for a heart attack, see the Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?
- You may need
other tests to find out if another health problem, such as
hypothyroidism, is causing your high cholesterol.
C-reactive protein (CRP) test may be done for some
people who are at risk for getting
coronary artery disease. A special type of CRP test,
the high-sensitivity CRP test, can help find out your chance of having
a sudden heart problem, such as a
heart attack. This test may be done even if you have a
normal or low level of LDL cholesterol.