It is recommended that all adults over 40 who are at low risk for cardiovascular disease should test their cholesterol levels every five years.
The only way to know your cholesterol levels is to test them. High cholesterol is not usually associated with any signs or symptoms, and it can be affected by your lifestyle and genes, so testing your cholesterol levels is advised even if you feel fit and healthy.
A cholesterol level test from Test2Go involves a simple blood test completed within 5 minutes and gives you an easy-to-interpret visual result.
A test like this will tell you if you need to make changes for your health, as high cholesterol levels can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Suppose the test indicates high levels of cholesterol. In that case, you should discuss this with your doctor, as this will alert them that they need to carry out further tests on your LDL/HDL levels and triglycerides and offer you the appropriate advice and management.
What is a healthy cholesterol level?
The table below is a general guide for ideal cholesterol and triglyceride levels for healthy adults in the UK from the Heart UK charity. If you have a condition such as diabetes or heart disease, your target levels may be lower, and you should speak to your doctor about your targets.
What do the cholesterol-related terms mean?
The table above gives an overview of the healthy levels of various cholesterol-related terms for adults in the UK. Here is a breakdown of what these terms relate to:
- Total (serum)cholesterol – Sometimes written as serum cholesterol or TC. It refers to your overall level of cholesterol.
- Non-HDL cholesterol – Total cholesterol level minus your HDL cholesterol. This number should be as low as possible.
- LPL cholesterol – Bad cholesterol that can clog your arteries.
- HDL cholesterol – Helps clear the cholesterol out of your arteries. Ideally, it should be a high level.
- TC: HDL ratio – The ratio of HDL compared to total cholesterol. Anything above six is considered high.
Cholesterol levels explained
Healthy HDL levels are different for men and women. Women tend to have higher HDL cholesterol levels than men due to differences in their genes. Women should therefore aim for an HDL level of 1.2mmol/L or above, while men should aim for 1mmol/L or above.
Women may also find that their cholesterol levels rise during pregnancy and menopause. Therefore, taking a cholesterol level test while pregnant is not advised, as your results won’t be accurate. You should wait until at least six weeks after your baby is born.