Calculating Your Total Cholesterol Level in 5 Simple Steps
Cholesterol is essential for the metabolism of the human body. It helps the body repair cell membranes, make vitamin D, produce hormones and much more. However, high levels of this in the blood can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease and subjecting to heart attack and stroke. Cholesterol is transported through the bloodstream by three lipoproteins. First, we have the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) called “bad” because when in excess increase the risk of accumulating plaque in the arteries and blocking them. Second, we have the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) considered good because it helps remove fat and extra cholesterol to return to the liver to be eliminated. And third, the very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) that transport mostly triglycerides (a type of fat) and like LDL also triggers plaque buildup on arterial walls. The total cholesterol is the sum of all these three components.
Get the results of your blood test from your doctor or health center. In the USA, cholesterol data are reported in milligrams per deciliter of blood, whose unit is written mg/dL. In Europe, the results are in millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
Look for the LDL cholesterol value in the report. This is the bad guy. For example, let’s say it is equal to 115 mg/dL.
Look for the value of HDL cholesterol, this is the “good”. For example, let’s say it is 50 mg/dL.
Determine your VLDL level. To do that, look for the level of your triglycerides (abbreviated as “Trig” or “TG”) in the report, and divide it by 5. For example, if this value is 200 mg/dL, then the result of the division will be 40 mg/dL.
Add the values you obtained in steps 2, 3 and 4 to determine your total cholesterol number. In our example, the total is equal to 115 + 50 + 40, which gives 205 mg/dL.
Total Cholesterol = LDL + HDL + (TG/5)
Go to our cholesterol levels chart page and compare your number to those listed under the heading “Total Cholesterol” to see how it is ranked. In this example, 205 mg/dL falls into the borderline-high category.