There are several ratios that are commonly included in lipid profile tests, include the total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio, low density lipoprotein/high density lipoprotein, and high density lipoprotein/low density lipoprotein. However, the medical community is divided on the effectiveness of using a ratio to predict the chances of developing heart disease. For most people, the goal is to keep the total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio below 5:1.
Cholesterol Ratio: An Overview
When a person receives his or her cholesterol test (lipid panel) results, several numbers may be listed, including:
- Total cholesterol
- LDL (low density lipoprotein)
- HDL (high density lipoprotein)
- VLDL (very low density lipoprotein)
In addition to these numbers, the results from the cholesterol blood test may also show a cholesterol ratio (or several). These ratios may include:
- Total/HDL ratio
- LDL/HDL ratio
- HDL/LDL ratio.
One ratio is called the total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio, or 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, the total/HDL cholesterol ratio is 5:1. The goal is to keep this ratio below 5:1, with the ideal being below 3.5:1.
Researchers and healthcare providers are divided on the effectiveness of this 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/HDL cholesterol ratio. They believe that the absolute cholesterol numbers are more useful to plan treatment than this ratio.