Cholesterol Blood Test, from our experts to you.Dr Sam Rodgers MBBS, MRCGP
Chief Medical Officermeet our doctors
What is cholesterol?
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?
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.
Limitations of the test
Also, some medications may lead to falsely raised cholesterol levels. These include steroids, diuretics (water tablets), and beta blockers.
How to prepare for your test?
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
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.
What happens if my cholesterol is high?
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.
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.
Where can I get a cholesterol blood test?
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.
How can I check my cholesterol at home?
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.