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Cholesterol ratio can provide useful information about the risk of heart disease.
Formula: Total cholesterol/HDL


HDL (good cholesterol): High-density lipoprotein, high levels seem to protect against heart attack. It helps to remove cholesterol from the blood by carrying bad cholesterol (LDL) back to the liver to process and prevent the formation of plaque.

LDL (bad cholesterol): Low-density lipoprotein, a major risk factor for heart disease, excess cholesterol circulates in the blood and it can build up and stick to the wall of arteries and cause arteries to harden and narrow. It combines with other substances and forms thick and hard plaque, this condition is known as atherosclerosis.

Total cholesterol: the sum of HDL and LDL

According to American Heart Association (AHA), an optimal cholesterol ratio is about 3.5 to 1; a higher ratio indicates a higher risk of heart disease.

Cholesterol level chart

Total cholesterol (U.S. and some other countries) Total cholesterol (Canada and most of Europe)  
Below 200 mg/dL Below 5.2 mmol/L Desirable
200-239 mg/dL 5.2-6.2 mmol/L Borderline high
240 mg/dL and above Above 6.2 mmol/L High
LDL cholesterol (U.S. and some other countries) LDL cholesterol (Canada and most of Europe)  
Below 100 mg/dL Below 2.6 mmol/L Ideal
100-129 mg/dL 2.6-3.3 mmol/L Near ideal
130-159 mg/dL 3.4-4.1 mmol/L Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL 4.1-4.9 mmol/L High
190 mg/dL and above Above 4.9 mmol/L Very high
HDL cholesterol (U.S. and some other countries) HDL cholesterol (Canada and most of Europe)  
Below 40 mg/dL (men) Below 50 mg/dL (women) Below 1 mmol/L (men) Below 1.3 mmol/L (women) Increases the risk for developing heart disease
40-49 mg/dL (men) 50-59 mg/dL (women) 1-1.3 mmol/L (men) 1.3-1.5 mmol/L (women) Acceptable
60 mg/dL and above 1.6 mmol/L and above Desirable
(U.S. and some other countries)
(Canada and most of Europe)
Below 150 mg/dL Below 1.7 mmol/L Normal
150-199 mg/dL 1.7-2.2 mmol/L Borderline high
200 or more 2.3 mmol/L or more High

Note: These conversions are based on U.S. guidelines. Canadian and European guidelines are slightly different from U.S. guidelines.

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