Cholesterol Blood Test, from our experts to you.
Dr Sam Rodgers MBBS, MRCGP

Chief Medical Officer meet our doctors

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What is

Cholesterol, known as a lipid, is a fatty substance in your blood. It plays an essential role in how your cells work, and in making vitamin D, bile acid, and vital hormones, such as testosterone and oestrogen.


But too much cholesterol in your blood (known as hypercholesterolaemia) can seriously affect your health, as it increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke. 

What can I learn from this
at-home cholesterol test?

Our at-home Cholesterol Blood Test gives you a full breakdown of your cholesterol status, including your good (HDL) and bad (non-HDL) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. The ratio of these fatty substances is a great first step in assessing your risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes). You can also use our test to monitor how simple lifestyle changes can reduce your risk over time. 

What are the causes
of high cholesterol?

High cholesterol is mainly caused by lifestyle factors like eating too many fatty foods and not getting enough exercise. However, there are other causes unrelated to lifestyle that can increase your risk. These include a family history of high cholesterol, a thyroid condition, and diabetes. 

of the test

Your cholesterol levels are just one aspect of your heart health. Even with healthy cholesterol levels, you may be at increased risk of heart disease if you have other risk factors.

Also, some medications may lead to falsely raised cholesterol levels. These include steroids, diuretics (water tablets), and beta blockers.

What's Included?

Cholesterol status
Select profile for more information

Total cholesterol Cholesterol is an essential fat (lipid) in the body. Although it has a bad reputation it has some important functions, including building cell membranes and producing a number of essential hormones including testosterone and oestradiol. Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and also comes from the food we eat. Although there are a number of different types of cholesterol, the two main components of total cholesterol are HDL (high density lipoprotein) which is protective against heart disease and LDL (low density lipoprotein) which, in high levels, can contribute to cardiovascular disease. Your total cholesterol result on its own is of limited value in understanding your risk of heart disease; high levels of HDL cholesterol can cause a raised total cholesterol result but may actually be protective against heart disease. Equally, you can have a normal total cholesterol level but have low levels of protective HDL cholesterol. The most important factors are how much HDL and LDL cholesterol you have, and what proportion of your total cholesterol is made up of protective HDL cholesterol. We give a detailed breakdown of the components of your total cholesterol in the rest of this cholesterol profile.
LDL cholesterol LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) is a molecule made of lipids and proteins which transports cholesterol, triglycerides and other fats to various tissues throughout the body. Too much LDL cholesterol, commonly called 'bad cholesterol', can cause fatty deposits to accumulate inside artery walls, potentially leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Non - HDL cholesterol Your total cholesterol is broken down into 2 main components; HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad). There are more types of harmful cholesterol in your blood than just LDL - these include VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins) and other lipoproteins which are thought to be even more harmful than LDL cholesterol. Non-HDL cholesterol is calculated by subtracting your HDL cholesterol value from your total cholesterol. It therefore includes all the non-protective and potentially harmful cholesterol in your blood, not just LDL. As such, it is considered to be a better marker for cardiovascular risk than total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The recommended level of non-HDL cholesterol is below 4 mmol/L.
HDL cholesterol HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) is a molecule in the body which removes cholesterol from the bloodstream and transports it to the liver where it is broken down and removed from the body in bile. HDL cholesterol is commonly known as 'good cholesterol'.
Total cholesterol : HDL The cholesterol/HDL ratio is calculated by dividing your total cholesterol value by your HDL cholesterol level. It is used as a measure of cardiovascular risk because it gives a good insight into the proportion of your total cholesterol which is good (i.e. high-density lipoprotein HDL). Heart disease risk tools (such as QRisk) use the cholesterol/HDL ratio to calculate your risk of having a heart attack.
Triglycerides Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) that circulate in the blood. After you eat, your body converts excess calories (whether from fat or carbohydrates) into triglycerides which are then transported to cells to be stored as fat. Your body then releases triglycerides when required for energy.

How to prepare
for your test?

Special Instructions

Fasting is optional for this test. Eating fatty foods might affect the results of a small number of blood tests so we may advise a retest when you fast. If you are interested in your triglyceride or LDL levels, then we do recommend fasting.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if my cholesterol is high?

Having high cholesterol doesn’t cause obvious symptoms. Most people with high cholesterol don’t find out they have it until they develop a serious health condition, such as a heart attack or stroke. As you can have high cholesterol levels without knowing, it’s important to check your cholesterol levels regularly to make sure you’re not at risk.

Can I reduce high cholesterol?

For some people, diet and other lifestyle-related changes can help to reduce cholesterol levels. These include eating more fibre and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, following a Mediterranean diet, and eating less saturated fat. But others may struggle to reduce their cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes alone and may need cholesterol-lowering medications like statins.

What is a normal cholesterol level?

Your target cholesterol levels will depend on your cardiovascular risk and any underlying health conditions.

As a general guide, the NHS gives the following targets:

Total cholesterol ≤ 5 mmol/L
HDL≥ 1 mmol/L for men; ≥ 1.2 mmol/L for women
LDL≤ 3 mmol/L
Non-HDL≤ 4 mmol/L
Triglycerides≤ 2.3 mmol/L

You can see if your cholesterol levels are within the normal range on your MyMedichecks dashboard. You’ll also get doctor’s comments and advice on any next steps. Our blog can also help you to make more sense of your numbers.

Where can I get a cholesterol blood test?

You can take our Cholesterol Blood Test at home using our easy finger-prick blood test kit. Your blood sample can also be taken at your home by a nurse or at one of our convenient nationwide partner clinics at a time that suits you.

How can I check my cholesterol at home?

We’ll send you everything you need to check your cholesterol at home, including our easy finger-prick blood test kit and a pre-paid return envelope for your sample. Our at-home cholesterol test includes a full lab analysis of your blood sample and doctor’s advice to help you take action to improve your health and wellbeing.

Non-HDL cholesterol — a marker for cardiovascular risk

Our Cholesterol Blood Test also measures non-HDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), which is calculated by subtracting your HDL (good) cholesterol result from your total cholesterol.


This means our home cholesterol test includes all the non-protective and potentially harmful cholesterol in your blood and is an effective indicator of cardiovascular risk.


Cholesterol for men and women

Women naturally have higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels than men due to hormonal differences. However, there’s no difference in a man’s or a woman’s genetic predisposition for a high level of a bad type of cholesterol, known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL).


Women should aim for an HDL cholesterol level above 1.2 mmol/L, while men should aim for above 1 mmol/L.


Pregnancy can also affect cholesterol levels, as during pregnancy, cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase naturally. This means there’s a greater availability of nutrients for the placenta. This supports the growth and development of the baby as the pregnancy progresses.