Test Detail
Interpreting Results

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Written by
Dr. Shreya Gupta
BDS, MDS - Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
Reviewed by
Dr. Ashish Ranjan
MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)
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Cholesterol - Total

You need to provide
This test is for
Male, Female
Test Preparation
  1. Overnight fasting is preferred.


What is Cholesterol - Total?

A total cholesterol test also called a lipid panel or lipid profile measures the amount of cholesterol in your blood. The total cholesterol includes low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol. This test is done to screen the risk of developing heart disease and to check the efficacy of the ongoing lipid-lowering treatment. Your total cholesterol level reflects your risk for heart disease. In general, the higher the level, the higher your risk.

Normal cholesterol levels can be maintained by following a healthy lifestyle, by losing weight and staying active. If lifestyle changes are not enough, cholesterol-lowering medications may be advised.

Why is Cholesterol - Total done?

The cholesterol - total test is done:

  • As a part of the lipid profile test

  • To monitor the levels in case of patients prone to the risk of heart disease

  • To check patients for any previous history of high lipid levels

  • In patients undergoing treatment for abnormal lipid levels

What does Cholesterol - Total Measure?

Cholesterol is essential for life, as it is required by the body to work properly. It plays a role in the formation of cell membranes in all organs and tissues in the body. It is associated with the formation of hormones which are important for development, growth, and reproduction. It forms bile acids, which help to absorb nutrients from food. 

In the blood, a small amount of cholesterol circulates in the form of lipoproteins which contains protein, cholesterol, triglyceride, and phospholipid molecules. These are classified according to their density into HDL (high-density lipoproteins), LDL (low-density lipoproteins), and VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins). HDL cholesterol is also known as good cholesterol, as it carries excess cholesterol away for disposal while LDL cholesterol is also known as bad cholesterol, as it deposits cholesterol in tissues and organs. 

It is important to maintain and monitor the levels of cholesterol for a healthy lifestyle. The source of cholesterol is diet as well. If a person is taking too much of cholesterol-rich foods, it can cause a rise in levels of cholesterol in the blood. The amount of cholesterol which is not required by the body starts to deposit in the form of plaques on the walls of blood vessels. These plaques can narrow or block the blood vessels opening which can lead to the hardening of arteries known as atherosclerosis. Also, with an increase in cholesterol levels, there is an increased risk of various conditions such as heart disease and stroke. 

Interpreting Cholesterol - Total results


Cholesterol Levels (mg/dL)

In adults

In children

Desirable Level

< 200

< 170

Borderline High

200- 239

171 - 199


> or = 240

> or = 200

Reference range may vary from lab to lab*

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

Frequently Asked Questions about Cholesterol - Total

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.
Q. What are the risk factors for heart disease?
The risk factors for heart disease include smoking, obesity, intake of unhealthy foods, sedentary lifestyle. The other risk factors include old age, high blood pressure, family history of heart disease, personal history of heart attack, and diabetes.
Q. In what conditions low levels of cholesterol can be seen?
Low levels of cholesterol can be seen in people with liver disease, cancer, malnutrition, or acute illness. A decrease in the cholesterol levels can also be witnessed immediately following a heart attack, surgery or accident.
Q. Can medicine have any effect on cholesterol levels?
Yes, certain medicines can increase the levels of cholesterol such as anabolic steroids, beta blockers, epinephrine, oral contraceptives, and Vitamin D.
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