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High Cholesterol Diagnosis

The only way to see if you have high cholesterol is to have a blood test. This test may be called a cholesterol test, a lipid test or a lipoprotein profile and it checks for total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. If you have high levels of LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, or triglyceride, your risk for heart disease is higher. With HDL, more is better (meaning your risk is lower with higher numbers). Every adult should have a cholesterol screening test to check their risk of coronary artery disease.

Knowing your total cholesterol can help you estimate your health risk. But having a complete lipoprotein profile (with a number for total, LDL, HDL and triglycerides) is even better for setting treatment goals. You may need tests every few years to monitor risk or guide treatment.

A Guide to Cholesterol Scores

Total cholesterol:   

  • Below 200 mg/dL  =  desirable (lower risk for heart disease)
  • 200-239 mg/dL  =   borderline high (higher risk)
  • 240 mg/dL and above  =  high (high risk)

LDL cholesterol:

  • Less than 100 mg/dL =  near optimal
  • 100-129 mg/dL  =   acceptable if no other risk factors
  • 130-159 mg/dL  =  borderline high
  • 160-189 mg/dL  =  high
  • Above 190 mg/dL =  very high

HDL cholesterol:

  • Less than 40 mg/dL =  higher risk of heart disease
  • Above 60 mg/dL =   lower risk of heart disease


  • Below 150 mg/dL =  best
  • 150-199 mg/dL  =  borderline high
  • Above 200 mg/dL =  high