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What is the test for cholesterol: Get Your Cholesterol Checked – MyHealthfinder

Get Your Cholesterol Checked – MyHealthfinder

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The Basics


It’s important to get your cholesterol checked regularly. Too much cholesterol in your blood can cause a heart attack or a stroke.

The good news is that it’s easy to get your cholesterol checked. If your cholesterol is high, you can take steps to lower it — like eating healthy, getting more physical activity, and taking medicine if your doctor recommends it.

How often do I need to get my cholesterol checked?

The general recommendation is to get your cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. Some people may need to get their cholesterol checked more often depending on their risk of heart disease.

For example, high cholesterol can run in families. If someone in your family has high cholesterol or takes medicine to control cholesterol, you might need to get tested more often. Talk to your doctor about what’s best for you.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy material that’s found naturally in your blood. Your body makes cholesterol and uses it to do important things, like making hormones and digesting fatty foods.

If you have too much cholesterol in your body, it can build up inside your blood vessels and make it hard for blood to flow through them. Over time, this can lead to heart disease.

Cholesterol Test

How can I tell if I have high cholesterol?

Most people who have high cholesterol don’t have any signs or symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to get your cholesterol checked.

How can I get my cholesterol checked?

Your doctor will check your cholesterol levels with a blood test called a lipid profile. A nurse will take a small sample of blood from your finger or arm for this test.

There are other blood tests that can check cholesterol, but a lipid profile gives the most information.

Types of Cholesterol

What do the test results mean?

If you get a lipid profile test, the results will show a few numbers. A lipid profile measures:

  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

Total cholesterol is a measure of all the cholesterol in your blood. It’s based on the LDL, HDL, and triglycerides numbers. 

LDL cholesterol is a “bad” type of cholesterol that can block your arteries —  so a lower level is better for you. Having a high LDL level can increase your risk for heart disease.

HDL cholesterol is the “good” type of cholesterol that helps clear LDL cholesterol out of your arteries — so a higher level is better for you. Having a low HDL cholesterol level can increase your risk for heart disease.

Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood that can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. 

The results of your lipid profile test may also show your non-HDL cholesterol number. Non-HDL cholesterol is LDL cholesterol and the other “bad” types of cholesterol. In other words, it’s your total cholesterol minus your HDL cholesterol. Having a high non-HDL level can increase your risk for heart disease.

Am I at Risk?

What can cause unhealthy cholesterol levels?

Causes of high LDL (bad) cholesterol or low HDL (good) cholesterol levels include:

  • Age 
  • Smoking, using other tobacco products, or drinking alcohol
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Eating too much saturated fat or not enough fruits and vegetables
  • Taking certain medicines, like medicines to lower blood pressure
  • Family history of high cholesterol
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia (a condition passed down through families that causes very high LDL cholesterol levels)
  • Certain other health problems, like type 2 diabetes or obesity
What if my cholesterol levels aren’t healthy?

As your LDL cholesterol gets higher, so does your risk of heart disease. Take these steps to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease:

  • Eat heart-healthy foods
  • Get active
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • If you smoke, quit
  • Drink only a moderate (limited) amount of alcohol
  • If you have other chronic conditions — like type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure — take steps to manage them
  • Ask your doctor about taking medicine to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke

Take Action

Take Action

Get Tested

Find out what your cholesterol levels are. If your cholesterol is high or you’re at risk for heart disease, take steps to control your cholesterol levels.

Make an appointment to get your cholesterol checked.

Call your doctor’s office or health center to schedule the test. Be sure to ask for a complete lipid profile — and find out what instructions you’ll need to follow before the test. For example, you may need to fast (not eat or drink anything except water) for 9 to 12 hours before the test.

You may also want to print these questions to ask your doctor about cholesterol and take them to your appointment.

What about cost?

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must cover cholesterol testing. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get your cholesterol checked at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to find out more.

Medicare may also cover cholesterol testing at no cost. If you have Medicare, learn about Medicare coverage for cholesterol testing.

If you don’t have insurance, you may still be able to get free or low-cost cholesterol testing. Find a health center near you and ask about cholesterol testing.

To learn more, check out these resources about:

  • Free preventive care for adults covered by the Affordable Care Act
  • How the Affordable Care Act protects you
  • Understanding your health insurance and how to use it [PDF – 698 KB]
Keep track of your cholesterol levels.

Remember to ask the doctor or nurse for your cholesterol levels each time you get your cholesterol checked. Write the levels down to keep track of your progress.

Eat Healthy

Eat heart-healthy foods.

Making healthy choices to your diet can help lower your cholesterol. Try to:

  • Cut down on saturated fat, which comes from animal products (like fatty meats and full-fat dairy) and tropical oils (like palm and coconut oil)
  • Choose foods with healthy unsaturated fats, like avocados, nuts, and fish — and choose healthier oils (like olive, peanut, or canola oil)
  • Limit foods that are high in sodium (salt) or added sugars
  • Choose low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Eat more foods that are high in fiber, like oatmeal, oat bran, beans, and lentils
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables

You can also:

  • Check out these tips for eating healthy
  • Use this shopping list to find heart-healthy foods
  • Find healthy recipes in the MyPlate kitchen

Healthy Habits

Get active.

Getting active can help you lose weight, lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. 

  • Aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week — try starting with a brisk walk
  • Break up your 150 minutes however you want — try doing aerobic activity for 30 minutes 5 times a week
  • Do muscle-strengthening activities 2 days a week — try lifting weights or doing push-ups

Remember, any amount of physical activity is better than none. If you haven’t been active before, start with just 5 minutes and build up from there.

To help you get more active: 

  • Check out our guide to physical activity
  • Use this tool to build a personalized weekly activity plan
Quit smoking.

Quitting smoking can help lower your cholesterol. If you smoke, make a plan to quit today. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support and to set up your quit plan.

Check out our tips for quitting smoking.

Drink alcohol only in moderation.

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of high cholesterol. So if you choose to drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. That means 1 drink or less in a day for women and 2 drinks or less in a day for men.

Learn more about drinking alcohol only in moderation.

The Basics

Content last updated July 29, 2022

Reviewer Information

This information on cholesterol was adapted from materials from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Reviewed by:
Angela M. Thompson-Paul, PhD, MSPH
LCDR, US Public Health Service
Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Get a Cholesterol Test | cdc.gov

From 2017 to 2020, 86.4 million U.S. adults age 20 or older had high or borderline high cholesterol (a total cholesterol level greater than or equal to 200 mg/dL). 1

From 2009 to 2016, about 1 in 5 adolescents had an unhealthy cholesterol measurement.2

Because high cholesterol doesn’t have symptoms, many people don’t know their levels are high.

The only way to know whether you have high cholesterol is to get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team can do a simple blood test, called a “lipid profile,” to measure your cholesterol levels.

Who needs to get their cholesterol checked and when?

Many people have never had their cholesterol checked, so they don’t know whether they are at risk.

Talk with your health care team about your health history and how often you need to have your cholesterol checked. Cholesterol should be checked starting early in life—even children and adolescents should have their cholesterol checked.

  • Most healthy adults should have their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years.
  • Some people, such as people who have heart disease, diabetes, or a family history of high cholesterol, need to get their cholesterol checked more often.
  • Children and adolescents should have their cholesterol checked at least once between ages 9 and 11 and again between ages 17 and 21.2
  • Children who have obesity or diabetes may need to be screened for high cholesterol more often.

The 2018 ACC/AHA Guidelines recommend that cholesterol management be based on a person’s lifetime cardiovascular risk, whether a person is 45 to 75 years of age, has diabetes, and has other factors.2  

Health care professionals calculate a person’s lifetime cardiovascular risk by considering

  • any other health conditions the person may have at the same time (comorbidities)
  • whether the person is being treated for high blood pressure
  • whether the person smokes
  • any other factors that may increase cardiovascular risk

Your cholesterol management and treatment decisions should be made in collaboration with a health care professional.

What happens during a cholesterol test?

The cholesterol test, or screening, requires a simple blood draw. The cholesterol test checks your levels of:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Having high levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease or stroke.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because high levels can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Total cholesterol, the total amount of cholesterol in your blood based on your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides numbers.

Learn more about LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

What do I need to know before getting a cholesterol test?

You may need to fast (not eat or drink) for 8 to 12 hours before your cholesterol test. Be sure to ask your doctor how to prepare for the test.

How do blood cholesterol numbers affect me?

Your cholesterol numbers are important, but they are just part of your overall health. Learn more about what optimal blood cholesterol numbers are.

Your health care team will look at your cholesterol numbers, along with your family history, age, sex, and other parts of your lifestyle or health, such as smoking, that could increase your risk for high cholesterol.

Additionally, your health care team may order a coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan to help understand your risk and determine the best way to manage your cholesterol levels.2

This complete picture helps your health care team determine whether you should take steps, such as lifestyle changes or cholesterol-lowering medicine, to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

More Information


  • About Heart Disease
  • About Stroke
  • Aortic Aneurysm
  • About High Blood Pressure

Other organizations

  • MedlinePlus: Cholesterol
  • American Heart Association (AHA):
    • Cholesterol
    • What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI): High Blood Cholesterol—What You Need to Know


  1. Tsao CW, Aday AW, Almarzooq ZI, Beaton AZ, Bittencourt MS, Boehme AK, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2023 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2023;147:e93–e621.
  2. Perak AM, Ning H, Kit BK, et al. Trends in Levels of Lipids and Apolipoprotein B in US Youths Aged 6 to 19 Years, 1999-2016. JAMA. 2019;321(19):1895-1905.
  3. Grundy SM, Stone NJ, Bailey AL, Beam C, Birtcher KK, Blumenthal RS, et al. 2018 ACC/AHA/AACVPR/AAPA/ ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA guideline on the management of blood cholesterol: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2018;0:CIR.0000000000000625.

how to prepare, why to take and how to read


General analysis for cholesterol

The basis for diagnosing disorders of lipid metabolism and cholesterol levels in the blood. Venous blood is taken for analysis. A healthy person over 25 years of age is recommended no more than once every five years to monitor their health. If abnormalities are detected, the doctor may prescribe regular monitoring of blood cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol shows the content of cholesterol in the blood without dividing it into the so-called “bad” and “good”. The rate of indicators varies depending on gender and age.

Cholesterol test code

Permissible blood cholesterol value:

Cholesterol blood test code for women


Age Norm (in m mol/l)
25-35 3.37-5-96
35-40 3.63-6.27
60-70 4.45-7.69 90 032
Older 70 4, 48-7.25

table of interpretation of the blood test for cholesterol for men


Age Norm (in mmol/l)
25-35 3. 44-6.58
50-60 4.09-7.17 90 032
60-70 4 ,12-7.15
Older 70 3.73-7.86

The total cholesterol test can be taken separately or as part of a detailed blood test. As a result of the test, this analysis is indicated by the abbreviation OX or the Latin abbreviation Cho or Chol (Cholesterin).

How to properly prepare for a cholesterol test

To obtain the most reliable result, you should prepare for a cholesterol test:

1. Blood is taken from a vein, strictly on an empty stomach

before 12-14 hours before the analysis

3. At least one day before the test, you should stop drinking alcohol

4. From two weeks before the analysis, it is recommended to maintain the usual diet

5. 10 minutes before blood sampling for cholesterol, you should sit quietly

6. On the eve of the analysis, avoid stressful situations, give up outdoor activities and sports

7. Two days before blood sampling, do not eat sweets

8. For a week before the test, stop taking medications. If the medication cannot be stopped, inform the health worker about how and what medications you are taking

9. Refrain from smoking 2 hours before blood sampling

10. For 2, and preferably 3 weeks, refuse to take drugs that normalize cholesterol levels in the blood.

For example, Lactoflorene® CHOLESTEROL, when taken regularly, can reduce total blood cholesterol levels by 17%. This result is very good for the treatment and prevention of diseases provoked by cholesterol, however, a blood test for cholesterol makes such effectiveness of Lactoflorene® CHOLESTEROL unreliable. It does not matter which form of release of Lactoflorene® CHOLESTEROL you take: in powder or tablets, the drug acts in the same way, since the composition of Lactoflorene® CHOLESTEROL has a complex of components that are effective in combating high cholesterol. The combination of live bifidobacteria, natural statin – red fermented rice, vitamin PP and antioxidant – coenzyme Q10, complexly balances the balance of good and bad cholesterol, while reducing the total level of cholesterol in the blood.

Lipidogram, or lipid profile

This is the name of an extended cholesterol test, which has detailed indicators and demonstrates the presence in the blood of not only the total amount of cholesterol, but also various lipids: HDL – high density lipoproteins or “good cholesterol”, LDL – low density lipoproteins or “bad cholesterol”, VLDL – very low density lipoproteins, as well as triglycerides and atherogenic index.

HDL (HDL) – participates in metabolic processes, helps to remove cholesterol from the cardiovascular system, and also

LDL (LDL) and VLDL (VLDL) – can settle on the walls of blood vessels, which leads to diseases of the cardiovascular system.

Triglycerides (TG) are fats involved in metabolism and energy metabolism. They do not affect cholesterol levels, however, coupled with a general analysis for cholesterol, they show a risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Atherogenic coefficient or index – helps to assess the likelihood of deposits on the walls of blood vessels and the risk of developing atherosclerosis.

table of norms of lipidogram indicators

Indicator Norm (in mmol/l) 90 032
Total cholesterol 3.2-5.6
Triglycerides 0.41-1.8
LDL – for men – for women .26-1.04
HDL – for men – for women 0.7-1.710.86-2.28
Atherogenic coefficient 2.2-3.5

Anyone can read a blood test in general terms patient. So, according to the lipid profile, one can suspect:

– Hypercholesterolemia when the total cholesterol exceeds the limit of 5 mmol / l. This is a signal that atherosclerotic deposits and cholesterol plaques can form in the body. Such conditions are dangerous for the health of the cardiovascular system and can lead to irreversible consequences: heart attack, stroke, ischemia.

– Hyperlipidemia with high lipid concentration, i.e. total cholesterol above 5 mmol/l and triglycerides above 1.8 mmol/l. It speaks of violations of fat metabolism, which in the end can cause atherosclerosis, thrombosis and other diseases of the cardiovascular system.

– Hypertriglyceridemia or lipid metabolism disorders – with an increased concentration of triglycerides, over 1.8 mmol / l. In addition to lipid imbalances, hypertriglyceridemia indicates the patient may have obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, renal failure, autoimmune and other diseases.

– Reducing cholesterol levels with extremely low levels of cholesterol in the blood, below 3 mmol / l. It can talk about cirrhosis of the liver, anemia, malignant tumors in the liver, hyperthyroidism, lung diseases and other pathologies.

Correctly detailing a blood test for cholesterol, and taking into account the anamnesis, a doctor can diagnose a particular disease. It is enough for patients to navigate in blood counts to monitor cholesterol levels in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.



gluten free

lactose free


  • prevention and maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels
  • control of cholesterol levels in people with moderate hypercholesterolemia
  • reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • prevention and maintenance of the normal functioning of the cardiovascular system

made in italy

Blood test for cholesterol

Many people believe that cholesterol is a harmful substance that enters the body when eating food of animal origin. Is it so? Let’s figure it out.

By its nature, cholesterol is a lipophilic alcohol. The human body receives cholesterol not only from food. The liver, for example, also synthesizes cholesterol for the needs of our body and is the main source of this substance.

Most of the cholesterol in the body is not in a free state, but is associated with special proteins – lipoproteins and forms lipoprotein complexes.

There are two main types of lipoproteins:

  1. LDL (low density lipoproteins), or the so-called “bad cholesterol”, carry cholesterol from liver cells to other cells in the body. Due to the fact that LDL is poorly soluble and prone to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in the vessels, they thereby increase the risk of heart attack or ischemic stroke, as well as other cardiovascular complications.
  2. HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good cholesterol”, according to experts, prevents cardiovascular disease. HDL perform the opposite function of “bad cholesterol” – they carry cholesterol from cells back to the liver. It is either broken down in the liver or excreted from the body as waste.


Why cholesterol is needed

Cholesterol is essential for the normal functioning of the body. It is the main building material, because. provides strength and elasticity to all cell membranes. Cholesterol is a necessary component of the synthesis of cortisone, sex hormones and vitamin D. Cholesterol molecules are involved in the functioning of the nervous and immune systems.

One of the important advantages of breastfeeding, for example, is the content of cholesterol in breast milk, which is important for the development of the brain of infants, affects the production of necessary hormones, the musculoskeletal, immune, reproductive systems, and in substitute mixtures, its content is significantly inferior mother’s milk.

Reduced levels of “good” cholesterol leads to disorders in the sexual and reproductive spheres, inability to conceive, loss of libido, as well as depressive states with a high probability of suicidal outcome, digestive disorders, the development of osteoporosis, diabetes, hemorrhagic stroke.

But an excess of cholesterol in the blood is not very good for health, because. this is the primary link in the process of atherosclerotic plaques (cholesterol deposits) on the walls of blood vessels.

The thing is that circulating in the blood, cholesterol, with its excess, tends to stick together and accumulate in the arteries, forming atherosclerotic plaques that impede the movement of blood and narrow the lumen of blood vessels, which causes oxygen starvation and insufficient blood supply to tissues and organs and leads to the development of atherosclerosis of blood vessels, arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease. In addition, atherosclerotic plaques on the walls of blood vessels contribute to the formation of a blood clot, which provokes thromboembolism, heart attacks, strokes and can lead to death.

Important to remember! Smoking, overweight, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet are factors that increase the level of “bad” cholesterol.

In a blood test for cholesterol, it is important to determine not only the amount of total cholesterol, but also its fractions: LDL – cholesterol, HDL – cholesterol. A very important indicator is the atherogenic index (atherogenicity coefficient), which reflects the degree of risk of developing heart and vascular disease.

Blood cholesterol norm:

  • desired cholesterol level <5.17
  • borderline cholesterol level 5.17-6.18
  • high cholesterol >6.21

Norm of LDL in the blood, taking into account the risk of developing coronary heart disease:

  • <2.59 - optimal
  • 2.59-3.34 – above optimal
  • 3.37-4.12 – border-high
  • 4.14-4.89 – high
  • ≥4.92 – very high

HDL cholesterol in women taking into account the risk of developing coronary heart disease:

  • >1.68 – no risk
  • 1.15-1.68 – conditional risk
  • <1.