Understanding Your Number

Understanding your cholesterol test

Your cholesterol test

High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of Coronary Heart Disease. It's important to know your level so that you can take action to improve or maintain your cholesterol level and help look after your heart health.

You may not notice if you have high cholesterol because you can't feel it. Measuring your blood cholesterol involves a simple blood test; your GP or practice nurse can carry out the test for you. Adults aged 40-74 years, living in England are eligible for a free NHS Health Check which includes a blood cholesterol check.

If you have a history of heart disease in the family or are concerned that you have high cholesterol, speak with your doctor who will be able to advise you.

Understanding your cholesterol level

What is a healthy cholesterol level?

Your cholesterol level is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.

The government recommends that healthy adults should have a total cholesterol level below 5 mmol/L. In the UK, three out of five adults have a total cholesterol level of 5 mmol/L or above, and the average cholesterol level is about 5.7 mmol/L, which can be a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.

However, it's important to remember that as well as your cholesterol level, other factors such as smoking and high blood pressure are risk factors for the development of coronary heart disease.

The total cholesterol level includes LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol). The risk of coronary heart disease is particularly high if you have a high level of LDL cholesterol and a low level of HDL cholesterol. Individual levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol will vary and your doctor will be able to give you specific advice based on your own results.

HDL and LDL level