A test for total cholesterol is used alone or as a part of a lipid profile to help predict an individual’s risk of developing heart disease and to help make decisions about what treatment may be needed if there is borderline or high risk.
As part of a lipid profile (which includes tests for high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides), it may be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment once initiated.
Because high blood cholesterol is associated with hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart disease, and a raised risk of death from heart attacks, cholesterol testing is considered a routine part of preventative healthcare. Results of the cholesterol test and other components of the lipid profile are used along with other known risk factors of heart disease to develop a plan of treatment and follow-up.
Treatment options may include lifestyle changes such as diet or exercise programs or lipid-lowering drugs such as statins. Cholesterol testing is recommended for children, young adults, and adults with no risk factors for heart disease at least every four to six years and at more frequent intervals when a person has one or more of the following risk factors:
-Being overweight or obese
-Having an unhealthy diet
-Not getting enough exercise
-Age (men 45 years or older or women 55 years or older)
-Having high blood pressure
-Family history of heart disease
-Having diabetes or pre-diabetes
-Having pre-existing heart disease or already having had a heart attack
|Adult cholesterol levels in mg/dL||Risk of heart disease (independent of other risk factors)|
|200-239||Borderline high risk|
|Child & adolescent cholesterol levels in mg/dL||Risk of heart disease (independent of other risk factors)|
|170-199||Borderline high risk|
|Young adult cholesterol levels in mg/dL||Risk of heart disease (independent of other risk factors)|
|190-224||Borderline high risk|