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How our doctors diagnose high cholesterol

There are many things that can contribute to you developing high cholesterol, so our doctors will need as much information as you can give them, in order to provide an accurate diagnosis for you.

During an online video consultation, our doctors will ask about your symptoms and your lifestyle and assess whether you are at risk of having high cholesterol. If they believe you are, they may refer you for a cholesterol test.

This is a simple blood test that will check your cholesterol levels and the results, sometimes referred to as a lipid profile or lipid panel, will show your:

  • total cholesterol levels
  • high-density lipoprotein, or HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)
  • low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
  • triglycerides levels (a form of fat that is in your blood)

You may need to fast before the blood test, but the doctor will be able to advise.

High cholesterol levels

According to the NHS, your cholesterol levels should be:

Total cholesterol

5mmol/L or less if you’re a healthy adult. If you’re at high risk of heart disease or a stroke it should be 4mmol/L or less.

LDL cholesterol

This should be 3mmol/L or less if you’re a healthy adult. If you’re at high risk of heart disease or a stroke it should be 2mmol/L or less.

HDL cholesterol

This should be at 1mmol/L as a minimum.

Cholesterol ratio

You will also have a cholesterol ratio, which is the total cholesterol level divided by the HDL cholesterol figure. You should aim for this to be below 4 to reduce your chances of developing heart disease.

These results, along with an assessment of your other risk factors will dictate what treatment, if any you need. This is called a cardiovascular health risk assessment, where you’re given a score based on the risk factors mentioned here. This score tells you how likely it is that you will develop cardiovascular disease during the next 10 years.

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