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How to Calculate Your Serum Cholesterol Level

Although cholesterol is a vital substance found in the body, it can be deposited into artery walls and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. It is possible to calculate your serum cholesterol level. By knowing your serum cholesterol levels, you can gain a better understanding of your health status and monitor any underlying health risks you may have.


To calculate your serum cholesterol levels, you will need to ask your physician to order a test known as a lipid panel or lipid profile. This involves going in for a blood test. The levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood will be analyzed. You can expect to be asked to fast for about 9 -12 hours before the blood sample taken.

Once you receive your results, you will see the measurement of your triglyceride (sometimes abbreviated ‘trig’), HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. Triglycerides are a type of fat or lipid found in the blood or fat cells. HDL (high density lipoprotein) is a type of cholesterol known as "good cholesterol." High levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a lowered risk of heart disease. LDL (low density lipoprotein) is known as "bad cholesterol." It is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Total Serum Cholesterol

To calculate your total serum cholesterol level, first divide the measured triglyceride level by 5. To this add the LDL and HDL results. For example: Your results have a triglyceride level of 200 mg/dl, an HDL level of 95, and an LDL level of 100mg/dl. Divide the triglyceride level of 200 by 5 to get an answer of 40, then add 95 (HDL) and 100 (LDL) to get a total serum cholesterol reading of 235 mg/dl.

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