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Total Cholesterol

What is total cholesterol?


Cholesterol is one of two circulating lipids in our bloodstream. It is a fat-like substance, present in all cells of your body, acting as a building block in various important structures in our bodies such as:

Cell walls
Vitamin D
Certain hormones
Bile acid

Cholesterol is transported through the bloodstream attached to a transport protein called lipoprotein. These lipoporteins can be of various densities, dividing them into subgroups called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL).

Although necessary for our body, excessive amounts have been strongly associated with an increased risk of the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Normal cholesterol levels are generally indicative for good overall cardiovascular health.

Total cholesterol is associated with risk for cardiovascular disease. Roughly put, the higher the level, the higher the risk. Measuring total cholesterol is therefore mainly used for investigating and evaluating the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

This may be particularly important if an increased risk has been identified and a treatment has been prescribed. Total cholesterol can then be measured to monitor the effectiveness of that treatment. Additionally, total cholesterol can be used as a biomarker when wanting to proactively identify risk value and track the effect of lifestyle changes made in pursuit of a healthier you.

Important note: Total cholesterol alone cannot accurately predict risk for cardiovascular disease, but has to be put into context together with other lipids and lifestyle factors.



High levels of total cholesterol


A high level of total cholesterol means that you have more circulating cholesterol in your bloodstream than what is optimal for maintaining your cardiovascular health, hence suggesting an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.



Low levels of total cholesterol


A low level of total cholesterol most often suggests a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Important note: The body needs cholesterol in moderate amounts to create essential compounds such as cortisol and testosterone. If your total cholesterol is extremely low, you may need to further investigate the possible underlying cause.