Test Detail
Interpreting Results

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Written by
Dr. Betina Chandolia
BDS, MDS - Oral Pathology and Microbiology
Reviewed by
Dr. Ashish Ranjan
MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)
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Cholesterol - LDL

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What is Cholesterol - LDL?

Cholesterol - LDL stands for Cholesterol Low Density Lipoprotein. The cholesterol - LDL test is advised to determine the risk of developing heart disease and to monitor effectiveness of lipid-lowering therapy. LDL is also known as Bad Cholesterol and its elevated level indicate towards the likelihood of a heart problem.
You may order this test as a part of routine exam, if you have a family history of heart disease or any risk factors like smoking, hypertension & obesity.

Why is Cholesterol - LDL done?

The cholesterol - LDL test is done:

  • As a part of routine health check-up

  • As a part of lipid profile along with cholesterol, triglycerides, and HDL

  • In diagnosed case of heart disease 

  • In case of risk factors for heart disease like cigarette smoking, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, or a family history of heart disease

  • As a screening test for adults

  • In case a person is taking lipid-lowering medicines

What does Cholesterol - LDL Measure?

The cholesterol LDL test measures the levels of cholesterol LDL in the blood. LDL also known as low-density lipoprotein carries cholesterol in the blood. It consists mainly of cholesterol, similar other substances, and a small amount of protein. 

 It is very important to monitor and maintain healthy levels of lipids for staying healthy. Intake of foods that are high in saturated fats and trans unsaturated fats can raise the levels of cholesterol in the blood. The extra cholesterol gets deposited in plaques on the walls of blood vessels. This may result in atherosclerosis  (hardening of the arteries). It can also increase the risk of various other health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

The cholesterol LDL is known as “bad cholesterol” as it gets deposited in the vessels as plaque, giving rise to cardiovascular diseases. The cholesterol HDL which is the high-density lipoproteins cholesterol is known as “good cholesterol” as its role is to transport cholesterol from the arteries to the liver and thus protects the body against heart diseases.

The cholesterol LDL test helps in determining the risk of heart disease in an individual. It also helps in planning out the treatment considering other known risk factors as well. The treatment can involve changes in lifestyle such as diet and exercise or lipid-lowering medications such as statins.

Interpreting Cholesterol - LDL results


  • If the LDL cholesterol level is less than 100 mg/dL - Optimal 

  • If it is between 100-129 mg/dL — Near optimal, above optimal 

  • Levels between 130-159 mg/dL — Borderline high 

  • Level between 160-189 mg/dL — High 

  • Greater than 189 mg/dL— Very high

Low levels of LDL cholesterol are not generally a concern and are not monitored.

Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Cholesterol - LDL

Frequently Asked Questions about Cholesterol - LDL

Q. What are the risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases?
The risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases other than LDL cholesterol levels include smoking cigarettes, obesity, diabetes or prediabetes, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, age (above 45 years for males and above 50 years for females), hypertension and undergoing treatment for hypertension. Other conditions which can act as risk factors include history of premature heart disease in immediate family and previous diagnosis of heart disease or heart attack.
Q. What is meant by “good” and “bad” cholesterols?
Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol or LDL-C is also called “bad cholesterol”. These low-density particles easily come out from blood and get deposited in the vessels as plaque, giving rise to cardiovascular diseases. High Density Lipoproteins Cholesterol or HDL-C is called “good cholesterol”. These high-density particles can pick up LDL-C particles while flowing through blood vessels and help transport them to the liver for disposal.
Q. How is the blood sample taken?
The healthcare provider takes a blood sample from the arm. The site from where the blood is to be withdrawn is cleaned with a swab of rubbing alcohol. This is then followed by inserting a small needle which has a tube attached to it for collecting blood. Once the sufficient blood for analysis is withdrawn, the needle is removed. The site is then covered with a gauze pad.
Q. Is there any risk associated with the withdrawal of blood sample procedure?
As such there is no risk but in few cases, bruising, bleeding, and infection at the puncture site can be seen. In very few cases, there can be swelling of the vein after the blood is withdrawn.
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