What information will I get from a cholesterol test?
A basic cholesterol test consists of a finger prick test and can performed at a pharmacy or at home. These cholesterol tests will indicate your total cholesterol (TC) level. If this is found to be high, it is important to visit your doctor for more detailed cholesterol tests, which tell you your TC level, individual levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol, and your TC/HDL ratio. This ratio is an important part of your cholesterol test results, as it reflects how much of your total cholesterol level is made up of bad and good cholesterol. As good cholesterol is believed to have a protective effect, you should have more HDL than LDL cholesterol.
Ideal results of a cholesterols test are:
TC: 5.0 mmol/l or less
LDL cholesterol: 3.0 mmol/l or less
HDL cholesterol: 1.2 mmol/l or more
TC/HDL ratio: 4.5 or less
What are the complications of high cholesterol?
High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood over a long period of time can lead to the formation of fatty deposits or ‘plaques’ called atheroma on the blood vessel walls. Over time, these plaques can accumulate and become larger, causing narrowing and hardening of the arteries, leading to cardiovascular disorders such as angina, heart attacks or stroke.
Unfortunately, high cholesterol has no symptoms until cardiovascular disease is present. If you think you may be at risk of high cholesterol levels, ask your doctor about cholesterol tests, as early diagnosis can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
What if my cholesterol test shows my levels are too high?
Even if your cholesterol test shows that your levels are too high, you can reduce them along with your risk of cardiovascular disease by making changes to your lifestyle and, if necessary, taking medication. Changing your diet to reduce the amount of fat you eat can help to lower your cholesterol levels, while statins are often used to control cholesterol levels and correct the TC/HDL ratio.