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Diagnostic Tests for High Cholesterol

Diagnostic tests for High Cholesterol:

Cholesterol levels can be measured and monitored using a simple, inexpensive, easily accessible blood test. Cholesterol testing primarily measures the total cholesterol and the three components of cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. Cholesterol levels are only one aspect that can help determine a person's total risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), hypertension, blood clots, heart disease, heart attack (myocardial infarction), and stroke. A comprehensive evaluation from a qualified health care professional includes compiling and analyzing many factors that impact cardiovascular disease risk. These include lifestyle, family history, personal history, dietary habits, weight, blood pressure, stress, smoking/drinking habits, and other tests, such as blood tests, EKG, and imaging tests such as heart scans.

High Cholesterol: Diagnostic Tests

The list of diagnostic tests mentioned in various sources as used in the diagnosis of High Cholesterol includes:

Home Diagnostic Testing

These home medical tests may be relevant to High Cholesterol:

Tests and diagnosis discussion for High Cholesterol:


A total blood cholesterol level of under 200 mg/dL is desirable and usually puts you at a lower risk for heart disease. A blood cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL is high and increases your risk of heart disease. If your cholesterol level is high, your doctor will want to check your level of LDL-cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol). A HIGH level of LDL-cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease, as does a LOW level of HDL-cholesterol ("good" cholesterol). An HDL-cholesterol level below 35 mg/dL is considered a risk factor for heart disease. A total cholesterol level of 200 239 mg/dL is considered borderline-high and usually increases your risk for heart disease. All adults 20 years of age or older should have their blood cholesterol level checked at least once every 5 years. (Source: excerpt from CHECK YOUR CHOLESTEROL AND HEART DISEASE I Q: NHLBI)

NHLBI Heart Disease & Women Are You At Risk: NHLBI (Excerpt)

Blood Cholesterol Levels
For Women Without Heart Disease

Borderline-High High
Total cholesterol Less than 200 200-239 240 and above
LDL cholesterol Less than 130 130-159 160 and above
(Source: excerpt from NHLBI Heart Disease & Women Are You At Risk: NHLBI)

NHLBI Heart Disease & Women Are You At Risk: NHLBI (Excerpt)

Understanding the Numbers . A desirable total cholesterol level for adults without heart disease is less than 200 mg/dL (or 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood). A level of 240 mg/dL or above is considered "high" blood cholesterol. But even levels in the "borderline-high" category (200-239 mg/dL) increase the risk of heart disease.

HDL levels are interpreted differently than total cholesterol levels. The lower your HDL level, the higher your heart disease risk. An HDL level of under 35 is a major risk factor for heart disease. A level of 60 or higher is considered protective.

Total and HDL cholesterol are measured first. If these tests show any of the following, your doctor will want to measure your LDL level as well: total cholesterol of 240 mg/dL or above; total cholesterol of 200-239 mg/dL with two or more other risk factors for heart disease; or HDL cholesterol of less than 35 mg/dL.

An LDL level below 130 mg/dL is desirable. LDL levels of 130-159 mg/dL are borderline-high. Levels of 160 mg/dL or above are high. As with total cholesterol, the higher your LDL number, the higher the risk. (Source: excerpt from NHLBI Heart Disease & Women Are You At Risk: NHLBI)

NHLBI Heart Disease & Women Are You At Risk: NHLBI (Excerpt)

Understanding the Numbers . Your goal should be to have an LDL cholesterol of about 100 mg/dL or less, which is lower than for people who do not have heart disease. Depending on what your LDL level is, your next steps will be the following:

  • If your LDL level is 100 mg/dL or less, you do not need to take specific steps to lower your LDL. But you will need to have your level tested again in 1 year. In the meantime, you should closely follow a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, and not smoke. You should also follow the specific recommendations of your doctor.

  • If your LDL level is higher than 100 mg/dL, you will need a complete physical examination to find out if you have a disease or condition that is raising your cholesterol levels. Then you should take steps to lower your LDL to 100 mg/dL or less: closely follow a low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet, be physically active, lose excess weight, and take cholesterol-lowering medicine, if prescribed. Of course, you also should avoid smoking.

    If, in your doctor’s judgment, your LDL level starts out too much higher than the LDL goal of 100 mg/dL or if your LDL level stays too high after lifestyle changes, you will need to take medicine.

(Source: excerpt from NHLBI Heart Disease & Women Are You At Risk: NHLBI)

NHLBI, High Blood Cholesterol What You Need to Know: NHLBI (Excerpt)

Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol measured at least once every 5 years. It is best to have a blood test called a "lipoprotein profile" to find out your cholesterol numbers. This blood test is done after a 9- to 12-hour fast and gives information about your:

  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol--the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
  • HDL (good) cholesterol--helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries
  • Triglycerides--another form of fat in your blood

If it is not possible to get a lipoprotein profile done, knowing your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol can give you a general idea about your cholesterol levels. If your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL* or more or if your HDL is less than 40 mg/dL, you will need to have a lipoprotein profile done. See how your cholesterol numbers compare to the tables below.

Total Cholesterol Level Category
Less than 200 mg/dL Desirable
200-239 mg/dL Borderline High
240 mg/dL and above High

* Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood.

LDL Cholesterol Level LDL-Cholesterol Category
Less than 100 mg/dL Optimal
100-129 mg/dL Near optimal/above optimal
130-159 mg/dL Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL and above Very high

HDL (good) cholesterol protects against heart disease, so for HDL, higher numbers are better. A level less than 40 mg/dL is low and is considered a major risk factor because it increases your risk for developing heart disease. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL or more help to lower your risk for heart disease.

Triglycerides can also raise heart disease risk. Levels that are borderline high (150-199 mg/dL) or high (200 mg/dL or more) may need treatment in some people. (Source: excerpt from NHLBI, High Blood Cholesterol What You Need to Know: NHLBI)

High Blood Cholesterol: NWHIC (Excerpt)

For all adults, a desirable total blood cholesterol level is less than 200 mg/dL. A level of 240 or above is considered high blood cholesterol. But even levels in the "borderline-high category (200-239) boost the risk of heart disease.

For a woman, the level of high density lipoprotein (or HDL, the so-called "good" cholesterol) also affects heart disease risk. If your HDL is less than 35, your risk of heart disease increases. (Source: excerpt from High Blood Cholesterol: NWHIC)

Diagnosis of High Cholesterol: medical news summaries:

The following medical news items are relevant to diagnosis of High Cholesterol:


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