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Total Cholesterol

Total Cholesterol


"Cholesterol is a substance (a steroid) that is essential for life. It forms the membranes for cells in all organs and tissues in the body. It is used to make hormones that are essential for development, growth, and reproduction. It forms bile acids that are needed to absorb nutrients from food. The test for cholesterol measures total cholesterol that is carried in the blood by lipoproteins.

A small amount of cholesterol circulates in the blood in complex particles called lipoproteins. Each particle contains a combination of protein, cholesterol, triglyceride, and phospholipid molecules and the particles are classified by their density into high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). HDL-C particles, sometimes called ""good"" cholesterol, carry excess cholesterol away for disposal and LDL-C particles, or ""bad"" cholesterol, deposit cholesterol in tissues and organs.

Monitoring and maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol is important for staying healthy. The body produces the cholesterol needed to work properly, but the source for some cholesterol is diet. If an individual has an inherited predisposition for high cholesterol levels or eats too much of the foods that are high in saturated fats and trans unsaturated fats (trans fats), then the level of cholesterol in that person's blood may increase and have a negative impact on the person's health. The extra cholesterol in the blood may be deposited in plaques on the walls of blood vessels. Plaques can narrow or eventually block the opening of blood vessels, leading to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and increased risk of numerous health problems, including heart disease and stroke.

Why to test Total Cholesterol?

Sr. Cholesterol is tested to screen for risk of developing heart disease; to monitor effectiveness of lipid-lowering therapy. Screening: as part of a regular health exam with a lipid profile when no risk factors for heart disease are present; adults should be tested once every four to six years; children, teens, and young adults should be tested once between the ages of 9 and 11 and then again between the ages of 17 and 21.

Monitoring: may be done more frequently and at regular intervals when risk factors for heart disease are present, when prior results showed high risk levels, and/or when undergoing treatment for unhealthy lipid levels.

When to test Total Cholesterol?


Cholesterol testing is recommended as a screening test to be done for all adults with no risk factors for heart disease at least once every four to six years. It is frequently done in conjunction with a routine physical exam.

Cholesterol is tested at more frequent intervals (often several times per year) when a person has one or more risk factors for heart disease. Major risk factors include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having an unhealthy diet
  • Being physically inactive (not getting enough exercise)
  • Age (men 45 years or older or women 55 years or older)
  • Having high blood pressure (hypertension) or taking high blood pressure medications
  • Family history of premature heart disease (heart disease in an immediate family member�male relative under age 55 or female relative under age 65)
  • Having pre-existing heart disease or already having had a heart attack
  • Having diabetes or prediabetes


Screening for high cholesterol as part of a lipid profile is recommended for children and young adults. They should be tested once between the ages of 9 and 11 and then again between the ages of 17 and 21. Earlier and more frequent screening with a lipid profile is recommended for children and youths who are at an increased risk of developing heart disease as adults. Some of the risk factors are similar to those in adults and include a family history of heart disease or health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or being overweight. When the youth's body mass index (BMI) is at or above the 85th percentile, cholesterol testing is recommended. For an obese youth (one whose BMI is at or above the 95th percentile), laboratory tests to measure cholesterol levels may be recommended every 2 years.

High-risk children should have their first cholesterol test between 2 and 8 years of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children younger than 2 years old are too young to be tested. If the initial results are not worrisome, the fasting test should be done again in three to five years.


As part of a lipid profile, total cholesterol tests may be ordered at regular intervals to evaluate the success of lipid-lowering lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, or to determine the effectiveness of drug therapy such as statins. Guidelines from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that adults taking statins have a fasting lipid profile done 4 to 12 weeks after starting therapy and then every 3 to 12 months thereafter to assure that the drug is working."


Inform your doctor if you are on any medications, have any allergies or underlying medical conditions before your Cholesterol Test. Your doctor will give specific instructions depending on your condition on how to prepare for Cholesterol Test.

The Total Cholesterol test is done after you fasted (without eating anything) for a whole night or for up to 9 to 12 hours and only water is permitted. Alcohol should not be consumed for 24 hours before the test. Usually, the blood is drawn in the morning after an overnight fasting.

Report delivery time

1-2 day

Result explanation

If Total Cholesterol blood levels are more than the normal range then it indicates that there is a high chance of risk for developing a heart disease and other conditions like heart attack (blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle), atherosclerosis (deposition of fat, cholesterol and other substances in the artery walls), blockage of blood flow due to fat deposition in the arteries, obesity, high consumption of fatty food items, smoking, less physical activity etc.

If test results are less than the normal range, then it indicates that there is a low chance for risk of developing a heart disease, good physical activity, infection, inflammation, cirrhosis (liver damage and causes liver failure), inherited lipoprotein deficiency (genetic disorder in which a person does not have the lipoprotein lipase enzyme which helps to break down the fat molecules).

Gender Age groups Value

OTHER All age groups < 200 mg/dl

Global facts

A blood sample can most likely be collected with a very simple prick to a finger. If you need other tests, your doctor may require a blood draw from a vein.

Before drawing blood, the healthcare provider performing the draw cleans the area with an antiseptic to kill any germs. They next tie an elastic band around your upper arm, causing your veins to swell with blood. Once a vein is found, they insert a sterile needle into it. Your blood is then drawn into a tube attached to the needle.

You may feel slight to moderate pain when the needle goes in, but you can reduce the pain by relaxing your arm.

When they??re finished drawing blood, the healthcare provider removes the needle and places a bandage over the puncture site. Pressure will be applied to the puncture site for a few minutes to prevent bruising.

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