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?

Cholesterol, known as a lipid, is a fatty substance in your blood. It plays an essential role in how your cells work. However, too much cholesterol in the blood (hyperlipidaemia) can seriously affect your health as it increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke.


What can I learn
from this test?

Our cholesterol test measures all the various types of cholesterol in your blood and determines your risk of heart disease based on your ratio of HDL good to total cholesterol.


What's the difference between
good and bad cholesterol?

LDL or 'bad' cholesterol deposits on your artery walls and hardens over time, narrowing the arteries and increasing your risk of heart disease. On the other hand, HDL or 'good' cholesterol can help stop this narrowing by taking bad cholesterol and depositing it through the liver. Healthy cholesterol levels consist of low levels of LDL cholesterol and high level of HDL cholesterol. Triglycerides are the main source of fat in the body. High levels in the blood can raise your risk of heart disease.


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 is a normal range of cholesterol in a blood test?

The average range of your total cholesterol, cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and non-HDL cholesterol can differ depending on the lab your results are tested at and their values. You will be able to see where your cholesterol levels lie (as well as your ratio of total cholesterol: HDL) within the ranges on MyMedichecks, after the results have been reported. Your doctor will also comment on whether this is the appropriate level and any changes you should consider making.

What is high cholesterol?

High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. High cholesterol can run in families, or be caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol. Have a look at everything you need to know about cholesterol, including ways to lower your cholesterol levels.

Can I eat before my cholesterol blood test?

Eating fatty foods before taking our Cholesterol Blood Test may affect your results. If you are interested in your triglyceride or LDL levels, then we do recommend fasting, but otherwise, fasting is optional.

What is cholesterol?

 

Cholesterol  is a fatty substance (a lipid) found in every cell in your body and is produced naturally by the liver. It is essential for the maintenance of cell membranes, the production of vitamin D and bile acid, along with the production of vital hormones, such as testosterone and oestrogen.
Read more in our blog: all you need to know about cholesterol. 

 

The benefits of healthy cholesterol

 

HDL cholesterol is often known as good cholesterol because it helps to protect your heart and blood vessels from disease. HDLs remove excess fat from the blood vessels as well as have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.


HDLs are most protective at around 1.3 – 1.4mmol/L — higher levels might not offer any extra protection (13). You should aim for total cholesterol: HDL ratio of less than four.


Find out about how the Mediterranean diet can help to keep your heart healthy.

 

Causes of high cholesterol

 

High cholesterol can increase your risk of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. High cholesterol can sometimes be easily reversed, especially if it’s down to lifestyle. However, there are other causes besides lifestyle that can increase your risk of high cholesterol.


Several factors can increase your risk of high cholesterol. Read more on all you need to know about cholesterol

 

Cholesterol for men and women

 

Women naturally have higher HDL cholesterol levels than men due to hormonal differences. However, there is no difference in a man’s or a woman’s genetic predisposition for high LDL cholesterol levels.


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


Pregnancy can also affect cholesterol levels as during pregnancy, cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase naturally. As the pregnancy develops, there is increased availability of nutrients for the placenta to support the growth and development of the baby.


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