High Cholesterol - Exams and Tests
A simple blood test tells you if you have
- A simple cholesterol test can measure total cholesterol
and HDL. You can eat before this test. Sometimes doctors do this test first.
lipoprotein analysis, also called a fasting cholesterol test, is a more thorough test. It
measures your total cholesterol plus your
triglyceride levels. It is called a fasting test
because you don't eat for 9 to 12 hours before the test.
- A direct LDL test measures your LDL level only. You can
have this test done at any time, no matter when you last ate.
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
The following tables will help you understand the results
of your cholesterol tests. All numbers are milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL),
but most people just say the numbers.
Your total cholesterol number shows if your
cholesterol is too high. 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.
|High||240 or above|
|Borderline-high||200 to 239|
|Best||Less than 200 |
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. This table shows the LDL levels for someone with
an average risk of heart attack.
|Near best||100 to 129|
|Borderline-high||130 to 159|
|High||160 to 189|
|Very high||190 and above|
Your LDL goal may be lower if your heart attack risk is higher than average. (To find out your risk, see the Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack? )
Your doctor will help decide what your LDL goal is and if
you need any treatment to lower your LDL. The higher your risk of heart attack,
the lower your LDL goal.
HDL (good) cholesterol
You want your HDL level to be high. HDL (good)
cholesterol goals are different for men and women. But for everyone, the higher
your HDL, the better. HDL over 60 helps protect against a heart attack. HDL
below 40 increases your risk of heart problems. A high HDL number can help
offset a high LDL number.
your triglyceride level to be low.
| Normal|| Less than 150 |
|Borderline-high ||150 to 199 |
|High ||200 to 499 |
|Very high||500 or higher|
Your risk level