What blood test for cholesterol?

So, you just found out from your doctor that you’ve got high cholesterol. Don’t worry, I’m here to help! In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of blood tests for detecting cholesterol levels and what they mean.

The Basics: What is Cholesterol?

Before diving into the details of various tests, let’s refresh our minds on what exactly cholesterol is. Simply put, it’s a waxy substance produced by our liver that circulates in our bloodstream. While we need some level of cholesterol to build cells and synthesize hormones, too much can cause health problems like heart disease.

Why We Need Different Tests

There are a few different types of blood tests used to measure cholesterol levels because there are different types of lipoproteins (the carriers of cholesterol) in our bloodstream. These include:

  1. Low-density Lipoproteins (LDL): often called “bad” because too much LDL can lead to plaque buildup in arteries
  2. High-density Lipoprotiens (HDL): often called “good” because HDL helps transport excess cholesterol back to the liver where it gets eliminated
  3. Triglycerides: another type of lipid that when elevated along with high total cholesterol or low HDL levels can indicate increased risk for heart attack or stroke

Standard Lipid Profile

The most common test ordered is the standard lipid profile which includes:

Total Cholesterol Level

As per its name says – total count including all 4 kinds which may be divided as mentioned below but usually considered as one entity only.
Total Levels over 240 mg/dl might point towards hazards like stroke and coronary artery diseases[5].


This measures specifically bad cholesterols such as (Low Density Lipids)[1] . Though according to recent research conducted by British scientists suggests otherwise contributing that this specific type of cholesterol may not always be harmful in large quantities[4].


Measures specifically Good cholesterols[2][3]. Levels above 60 mg/dl are actually protective against heart diseases whereas the levels below or near to 40 indicates higher towards risks[5]


These molecules store energy and can give a more accurate picture when used together with LDL, risk assessment for various metabolic conditions also rely highly on triglyceride level testings.

Table: Lipid Profile Blood Test

Name Description Optimal Range
Total Cholesterol Level A sum of all 4 types i.e. Triglycerides, HDL-C, LDL- C Less than 200mg / dl
LDL-Cholesterol (LDL-C) ​ ​ ​ ​ ​​ ​​ units : mg/dl Evaluates bad cholesterol which is clogging arteries Should be less than 70mg/dl otherwise a person at high risk especially if he/she already had cardiac issues Approximately less than another group measuring upto 130 milligrams/decilitre For general info about both groups referencing Universal Reading Reference:- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171386/. Percentage :​ [80 -90%] yearly loss rate in LDLC
(Hyperldprecia alone)

| HDL-Cholesterol (HDL-C) units : mmol/l Extremely low ratio points to an email health warning By that one means it may lead towards coronary disease easily Observed upon comparison between two largest chol cycles It’s range should usually lie Above or near To >50(males)/>60(females) Ref:-[5] A physician should be consulted upon abnormalities

Other Methods

While the standard lipid profile test provides a wealth of information, there are other types of tests that can provide more detailed info. These include:

  1. Non-HDL cholesterol measures all lipoproteins except HDL.
  2. LDL Particle Number\Small Dense LDL – evaluates specifically the concentration and size of individual particles[4]
  3. Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) measurement quantifies lipoproteins carrying “bad” cholesterol.

How Often Should You Get Tested?

The American Heart Association recommends adults aged 20 years or older should get their cholesterol tested at least once every five years[5], but if you have high risk factors for heart disease like diabetes or family history- more frequent testing in consultation with a doctor is advised.

What Impacts Cholesterol Levels?

Knowing what affects your cholesterol levels can help you make necessary lifestyle changes which will benefit you longer term :

1- Food Consumption : Certain foods namely chips & snack picks along-with processed/packaged meat items may increase bad cholesterols in human blood [6]

2)- Environment : Pollution has been proven to tinker up the parameters increasing bad cholestrole levels [7].

3)-Physical Inactivity : Sedentary lifestyle might elevate chance of having higher readings for both good/bad ones.


In conclusion, getting regular blood tests to monitor your cholesterol levels is important whether you’re trying to assess/prevent risks from underlying conditions such as Type# Diabetes, Stroke as elevated numbers greatly heighten [=bump up] the chances adversely affecting one’s general well being.. Work closely with your healthcare provider if any concerns arise pertaining to recent checks an individual gets.; They are best equipped position themselves relying heavily on expertise only they hold.[8]

1:- https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ldl-cholesterol/about/pac-20385001
2:- https://www.webmd.com/heart/how-lower-high-cholesterol#1
3:- https://medlineplus.gov/hdlthehappycholesterol.html

4 :-https://time.com/4056028/good-bad-cholesterol-density-lipoprotein-study/
5:- https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/publications/Lipid_guidelines_to_managing_and_preventing_cardiovascular_disease_2009.pdf

6.- Wang Q, Afshin A, Yakoob MY et al; Impact of nonoptimal intakes of saturated,
trans-, and polyunsaturated fatty acids on global burder or coronary artery disease in sixty countries.
Journal of American Health Association 2016:315:20.

7.-Pope CA. Air Pollution and Living Longer -Editorial JAMA July25, 2017;318(21):2111-2113 doi:10..1001/jama.20q17 .16459.

8.- Shivashankar R, Kondal D, Ali MK et al Lipids Research Group.; Associations between Socioeconomic Status & Cardiovascular Risk Factors in an Urban Population in India .
J Geriatric Cardiology Sept 2019 ; 16 (9):718738 doi :10..11909 /j.issn1681-q556x.dot255

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