The total cholesterol to HDL ratio is determined by dividing the total cholesterol by the HDL cholesterol. For most people, the goal is to keep this ratio below 5:1, with the ideal being below 3.5:1. It should be noted that research scientists and doctors are divided on the effectiveness of using cholesterol ratios (including the total cholesterol/HDL ratio) to predict the chances of developing heart disease.
An Introduction to the Cholesterol/HDL Ratio
Cholesterol test (lipid panel) results may include several numbers, such as:
In addition to these numbers, the results from the cholesterol blood test may also show several cholesterol ratios, including:
- Total cholesterol/HDL ratio
- LDL/HDL ratio
- HDL/LDL ratio.
How the Cholesterol/HDL Ratio Is Calculated
The total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio is also referred to as the total/HDL ratio for short. This ratio is determined by dividing the HDL cholesterol into the total cholesterol. If a person has a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL and an HDL cholesterol of 40 mg/dL, his or her total/HDL cholesterol ratio would be 5:1. The goal is to keep this ratio below 5:1, with the ideal being below 3.5:1.
Cholesterol research scientists and doctors are divided on the effectiveness of using this cholesterol ratio for predicting the chances of developing heart disease. At this point, the American Heart Association recommends using the absolute numbers for total blood cholesterol and HDL cholesterol instead of this total cholesterol/HDL ratio. They believe that the absolute cholesterol numbers are more useful for planning treatment than this ratio.
(Click High Cholesterol Risk to assess your risk for heart disease or click Cholesterol Numbers to see if your cholesterol level is healthy.)