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What questions should I ask when I get my cholesterol tested?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
When you get your cholesterol tested, be sure to ask for your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, your triglyceride level (you must fast for 8 hours before that one), and your inflammation number, or hs-CRP (your high-sensitivity C-reactive protein reading). The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol is very important at all ages. The lower the ratio, the better. The average ratio for middle-aged Americans is 5. It is calculated by dividing total cholesterol by HDL. For example, if you have a total blood cholesterol of 200 and your HDL is 40, the ratio is 5 (200/40). On the other hand, if your total blood cholesterol is 200 but your HDL is 57, your ratio is 3.5. A fifty-five-year-old man with a ratio of 3.5 would have only about half the risk of arterial aging as the average man in his age group. (The ratio of 3.5 is the one that I try to help my patients achieve.) His RealAge (physiologic age) would be 8 years younger. In contrast, if that same man has a ratio of 9 (for example, 270 total/30 HDL), he has more than five times the risk of arterial aging as the average man in his age group. His RealAge would be twelve years older than average. Having a high LDL/HDL ratio can cause arterial aging.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.