Total cholesterol is the sum of all cholesterol measured in a person's blood. This total includes high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is sometimes called the "good cholesterol," and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), sometimes called the "bad cholesterol," and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL).
Cholesterol is measured either in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or in millimoles per liter of blood (mmol/L).
The ratio of total cholesterol to "good" (HDL) cholesterol is also important, especially if total cholesterol is high.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise