The term “Cholesterol” is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone talks about heart health. Your doctor would recommend checking your blood cholesterol levels as a part of regular health checkup. It can be tested by conducting a lipid profile test on your blood sample and the result that you get would indicate different figures under various headings that would be difficult to interpret unless you know what this test is all about!

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat produced in the liver to carry out body functions efficiently. It is harmful only when it is present beyond permissible limits. Higher cholesterol levels would indicate clogging of blood vessels, which may further result in interrupted blood flow. Clots and uneven blood flow would give way to health issues like stroke, heart attack, hypertension, peripheral vascular disease and angina pain.

Heart attack

The above explanation of cholesterol suggests that high cholesterol is bad for health, but this is not always true. You have two types of cholesterol – Good Cholesterol and Bad Cholesterol. The good cholesterol as the name suggests is good and should be more in the body while the bad cholesterol should be less. To make the entire terminology of lipid profile easier, we have given here the description of each term that you will find on your Cholesterol Profile Report.

Total Cholesterol – Total cholesterol is the total of your good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL) and 20% of triglycerides. Higher total cholesterol is not good for your health but as this number includes both good and bad cholesterol levels, you will have to look at the detailed breakup in order to assess the risk.

Prescribed Limits – Desirable: Below 200 mg/dl

                                                           Borderline High Risk: 200 mg/dl to 239 mg/dl

                                                           High Risk: Above 240 mg/dl

HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) – This is the healthy cholesterol or good cholesterol. It helps in flushing out the bad cholesterol from blood vessels and hence limits its ill effects too. The clogging of arteries is effectively prevented if HDL level in the body is high. This is the cholesterol which should be more to keep your blood flowing.

Prescribed Limits – Desirable: 60 mg/dl or more

                                                             Borderline: 35 mg/dl to 45 mg/dl

                                                             High Risk: Below 35 mg/dl

LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) – The main culprit in your lipid profile is LDL or bad cholesterol. The LDL level should be kept under safe limits to keep the arteries and blood vessels clean or unclogged. Lowering of LDL is quite crucial for your heart health.

Prescribed Limits – Desirable: 60 mg/dl to 130 mg/dl

                                                             Borderline: 130 mg/dl to 159 mg/dl

                                                             High Risk: 160 mg/dl to 189 mg/dl

Triglycerides – Triglycerides are the blood fat responsible for higher cholesterol levels and increased risk of problems related to heart and diabetes. Controlling triglyceride level is important as excess triglycerides would slowly get converted to bad cholesterol or LDL.

Prescribed Limits – Desirable: Below 150 mg/dl

                                                             Borderline: 150 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl

                                                             High Risk: 200 mg/dl to 499 mg/dl

                                                             Very High Risk: Above 500 mg/dl

Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio – Some lipid profile reports will also contain this ratio as it indicates more precise numbers.

Prescribed Limits – Desirable: 4.0

                                                             Borderline: 5.0

                                                             High Risk: 6.0

The above figures are indicative and the final call is taken by the doctor as every individual has different body structure that depends on many other factors, which together make them healthy or unhealthy.


By Lucy Justina