Why Is It Important To Measure Your Cholesterol Level Periodically
- If you are over the age of 30 years, take a lipid profile test regularly to know your cholesterol levels for necessary lifestyle changes and medication, if necessary.
- You should check your cholesterol every year if you are taking medicine to control your cholesterol levels, or if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.
- If you have a family history of heart disease, cholesterol test is recommended every 5 years, beginning at the age of 20 years.
How To Calculate Total Cholesterol And What It Means For You
- You can calculate total cholesterol by doing a blood test called a lipid panel with your doctor.
- Your doctor will evaluate your total cholesterol level, along with each element of your cholesterol LDL, HDL, and triglycerides to determine if you need any treatment to lower cholesterol.
- Doctors will also take into account your medical history, including any risk factors for heart disease, to get a more complete picture of your cholesterol and heart health.
- This article was reviewed by Jason R. McKnight, MD, MS, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at Texas A& M College of Medicine.
- This article is part of Insider’s guide to High Cholesterol.
If you want to keep your heart healthy, it’s important to understand the numbers listed on your latest blood work. Here’s what you need to know about calculating your total cholesterol.
How To Calculate The Total Cholesterol Number
TC is the sum of the LDL level, the HDL level, and 20% of the triglyceride value . The new cholesterol guidelines 2019 recommend that the TC level for people at low risk would be less than 200 mg/dL or less than 5 mmol/L for healthy adults. For people with coronary artery disease, diabetes, or with other risk factors the total cholesterol recommended level should be less than 180 mg/dL. TC above these level should need on going treatment such as sport, drugs and change of lifestyle.
HDL LDL are waxy substance called plaque which builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaque occurs over many years but the outcome is fatal.
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How Do Good And Bad Cholesterol Affect The Body
High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is the good cholesterol. The benefit of HDL lies in the fact that it carries bad cholesterol back to the liver. In doing so, it cleanses cholesterol from the bloodstream.
Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, is the bad cholesterol. The higher the level of LDL cholesterol, the greater your risk of a heart attack. When the level of LDL cholesterol goes up, excess cholesterol can build up and stick to the walls of your arteries. This causes damage. The buildup is called plaque, and the formation of plaque can cause arteries to harden and narrow. This hardening is called atherosclerosis. It’s also known as hardening of the arteries. If a plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot can form, suddenly blocking an artery. This causes a heart attack or stroke.
Question 8 Does Quest Offer Advanced Lipid Testing Options To Assess Ascvd Risk
Yes. Aside from standard lipid profile tests, Quest offers several advanced lipid testing options, including measurement of LDL particle number and size. In a number of retrospective analyses, lipoprotein subfractions have been found to be associated with CVD events.9,10 Additionally, particle numbers as determined by ion mobility were found to be a significant determinant in defining residual risk.11 Quest uses ion mobility separation of subfractions for these measurements. The ion mobility method directly measures particle size and concentration, unlike other approaches that use algorithms to indirectly calculate lipid subfractions.12 And, unlike some methods, ion mobility separation of subfractions does not cause lipoprotein modification that could potentially affect the accuracy of the assay.10,13 Ion mobility has been used in multiple lipoprotein studies9,10,14 and is the method used in the Cardio IQ Lipoprotein Fractionation, Ion Mobility test .
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The Pros And Cons Of Total Cholesterol Hdl Ldl And Triglyceride Testing
Time to get your cholesterol checked. Okay, but which test should you get? It’s not so simple anymore. Here is a rundown of some of the choices and their pros and cons:
Total cholesterol. This is the simplest and least expensive test. The test doesn’t require any sophisticated lab work, either. The simple, do-it-yourself home cholesterol tests measure total cholesterol.
But total cholesterol includes both “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and the “bad” varieties, chiefly low-density lipoprotein and very-low-density lipoprotein . So, if your total cholesterol is in the desirable category, it’s possible that you may have unhealthy levels of HDL and LDL and VLDL . Think of total cholesterol as a first glimpse, a peek. Doctors are not supposed to make any treatment decisions based on this number alone.
Cholesterol levels can be lowered by stress or infection. An injury, cancer, stroke, or heart attack may have the same effect. So, if your cholesterol levels are unusually high or low, your doctor will probably want to repeat the test some weeks later. Abnormal readings may also lead to tests for other medical problems.
HDL cholesterol. HDL wins its laurels as the “good” cholesterol because it sponges up cholesterol from blood vessel walls and ferries it to the liver for disposal. In contrast, LDL deposits the harmful fat in vessel walls.
An HDL level of 60 or above is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and below 40 is associated with a higher risk.
How To Calculate Cholesterol Ratios
There are three indicators that describe your heart disease risk with high accuracy. They are all built as ratios of the aforementioned blood results, and are therefore called cholesterol ratios.
Are you wondering what a good cholesterol ratio is? You can use this total cholesterol calculator to find the following values:
- ideal: below 2.0
- good: below 5.0
- too high: above 5.0
If you measure the values in mg/dL, the normal range for the triglyceride HDL ratio is:
- ideal: 2.0 or less
- high: 4.0 – 6.0
- too high: 6.0 or above
For a calculation of this ratio in mmol/L , the normal range of the ratio value is different:
- ideal: 0.87 or less
- high: 1.74 – 2.62
- too high: 2.62 or above
Check out our cholesterol units calculator to fully understand the conversion between mmol/L and mg/dL units.
- ideal: under 3.5
- bad: over 5.0
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Is 255 Cholesterol Level Good Or Bad
Using the data above, you can see that a 255 LDL Cholesterol level falls into the Very High category. There is also something called HDL Cholesterol, which is often referred to as good cholesterol. The higher the HDL Cholesterol the better. HDL Cholesterol levels of 60 mg/dL or more are considered good.
Triglycerides To Hdl Ratio
The triglycerides/HDL proportion is calculated by dividing the triglycerides by the HDL levels. A cholesterol risk calculator for this ratio is also used to identify the likelihood of a heart attack, though not as often as the previous ratio.
- The normal ratio is 2.0 or less.
- Values between 4.06.0 are considered to be high.
- A triglycerides/HDL ratio of 6.0 or more is considered very high.
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How To Calculate Total Cholesterol
This article was medically reviewed by Victor Catania, MD. Dr. Catania is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Pennsylvania. He received his MD from the Medical University of the Americas in 2012 and completed his residency in Family Medicine at the Robert Packer Hospital. He is a member of the American Board of Family Medicine.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 11 testimonials and 83% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 187,970 times.
Note: In the information below, a lab test interpretation of the values may vary between labs and between doctors. Always view your lab results and speak to your doctor before coming to any conclusions about your lab test values.
What Do The Results Mean
Cholesterol is usually measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. The information below shows how the different types of cholesterol measurements are categorized.
|Total Cholesterol Level|
|Less than 40 mg/dL||A major risk factor for heart disease|
A healthy cholesterol range for you may depend on your age, family history, lifestyle, and other risk factors. In general, low LDL levels and high HDL cholesterol levels are good for heart health. High levels of triglycerides may also put you at risk for heart disease.
The LDL on your results may say “calculated” which means it includes a calculation of total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides. Your LDL level may also be measured “directly,” without using other measurements. Regardless, you want your LDL number to be low.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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About Cholesterol Testing And The Lipid Panel:
This kind of test is one of routine based on a simple blood sample from you. The health professional will take a sample of your blood that will further be analyzed in a laboratory and in about 24 hours the results will be ready.
However, there are some rules you need to respect to make sure that the test will be properly done. The usual cholesterol tests require a period of 9-12 hours of fasting before the blood is drawn and avoidance of strenuous effort before the test.
If you are consuming food or beverages then the test will only provide total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol values because the LDL and triglyceride levels are influenced by the food recently consumed.
You should also inform your doctor about any medical conditions you have, any medical treatment you are following or other details that you consider relevant and that could interfere with the results of the test.
Understanding The Risks Of Cholesterol
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A More Accurate Measurement Tool
The traditional Friedewald equation estimates LDL cholesterol this way: total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol minus triglycerides divided by five. For simplicitys sake, the formula applies a one-size-fits-all factor of five to everyone. But Johns Hopkins researchers found that this often makes LDL cholesterol appear lower than it really is for some high-risk patients. The researchers sought a more accurate formula that would take into account specific details about a persons cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Using a database of blood lipid samples from more than 1.3 million Americansalmost 3,000 times larger than the one used to develop the Friedewald equation Johns Hopkins researchers developed a more accurate system for calculating LDL cholesterol. It can be used to make more precise decisions about treatment to prevent heart attack and stroke.
This newer LDL cholesterol formula is being adopted by U.S. laboratories as well as others around the world. The best implementation is direct coding the LDL cholesterol estimation in the lab IT system, which automates the process and saves clinicians time. The formula is also available as a mobile device app called the LDL Cholesterol Calculator. It is available on the iTunes App Store and on Google Play, for those whose lab hasnt adopted it.
Researchers hope the new formula will one day be adopted by all labs that process lipid panels, as it can improve patient care.
What Are Triglycerides
Triglycerides are another form of fat in the blood. Just as with HDL and LDL cholesterol, your body makes triglycerides and also gets them from foods you eat. Foods that are high in trans fats and saturated fats can raise triglyceride levels. So can simple carbohydrates and food that are high in sugar. Also, when you eat more calories than you burn, your triglyceride levels may soar.
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Hdl Vs Ldl Cholesterol
There are two main types of lipoproteins in the bodyLDL and HDL. The difference is in the lipid to protein ratio.
The low-density lipoproteins, LDL cholesterol, contains more cholesterol and less protein. To get rid of their fatty overload, they carry and release cholesterol on the walls of our blood vessels. This leads to the forming of atheromatous plaques that narrow or completely obstruct the lumen of blood vessels. Remember, atherosclerosis is one of the leading causes of CVDs like heart attack and stroke. So, what can be estimated by the cholesterol calculator is the risk of heart disease. This is why LDL is known as bad cholesterol.
The high-density lipoproteins , are produced in the liver. HDL cholesterolcontains more protein and less cholesterol. Their function is entirely opposite from LDLthey take away cholesterol from the walls of the blood vessels and transport it to the liver for processing and removal from the body. In this way, HDL clears excess amounts of total cholesterol, reduces atherosclerosis, and subsequently lowers your risk of developing CVDs. Therefore, HDL is popularly known as good cholesterol.
Question 4 How Does The Martin
The Martin-Hopkins calculation provides greater customization to a patients specific triglyceride level by using a more personalized factor to calculate VLDL-C from triglycerides.4 This adjustable factor, which can range from 3.1 to 11.9, was derived from an analysis of triglyceride-to-VLDL-C ratios in more than 1.3 million people.4 The factor is lowest for patients with very low levels of triglyceride and high levels of non-HDL-cholesterol , and highest for those with very high levels of triglyceride and low levels of non-HDL-cholesterol.
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Question 3 Why Does Quest No Longer Rely On The Friedewald Equation
Although the Friedewald equation it is still widely used and generally produces reliable results, it may underestimate LDL-C at the low LDL-C levels that modern treatment guidelines call for and therapies can achieve .3 PCSK-9 inhibitors can drive LDL-C levels even lower . Such low LDL-C concentrations are below the concentrations considered when the Friedewald equation was developed.2
This limitation relates to the fact that the Friedewald equation uses a fixed ratio of triglyceride to VLDL-C it does not allow for heterogeneity in the ratio of triglycerides to VLDL-C. This becomes a problem especially at lower LDL-C and higher triglyceride concentrations, when the Friedewald calculation tends to underestimate LDL-C. In a 2013 study, Martin and colleagues compared the results of direct LDL-C and calculated LDL-C using the Friedewald equation in more than 1.3 million U.S. adults.4 Friedewald-estimated LDL-C tended to be lower than directly measured LDL-C, especially in patients with calculated LDL-C levels below 100 mg/dL. At triglyceride levels 150 mg/dL, calculated LDL-C was often below < 70 mg/dL in patients with directly measured LDL-C in the 71-80 mg/dL range. These findings suggest that the tendency of the Friedewald equation to underestimate LDL-C at higher triglyceride and lower LDL-C levels could result in high-risk patients being undertreated.
How To Determine Your Lipid Profile By Using A Cholesterol Calculator
Based on your blood sample test results, you can easily calculate the most common cholesterol parameters essential for the health of your heart and overall wellness. They can be provided by the lipid profile calculation chart. And they include LDL/HDL, triglycerides/HDL, and total cholesterol/HDL ratios. You need to know the four fundamental values to use a cholesterol levels calculator.
In order to calculate total cholesterol, you need only three values, which are interconnected according to this formula: TC=HDL+LDL+0.2xTG . Lets first determine the normal and elevated values before calculating their ratios which serve as reliable indicators of CVD risk.
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