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Testing Total and HDL Cholesterol Levels

If it is not possible to get a lipoprotein profile done, knowing your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol can give you a general idea about your cholesterol levels. This form of cholesterol testing does not require fasting. If your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or more (or if your HDL is less than 40 mg/dL), you will need to have a lipoprotein profile.

Home Cholesterol Testing

A number of home cholesterol tests have been approved for use. This type of testing is about as accurate as the tests done by your doctor; however, most home tests only measure total cholesterol. Total cholesterol levels can be misleading, because a person can have a healthy total cholesterol level and still have a low HDL level or a high LDL level. Therefore, most cholesterol treatment decisions are based on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, not total cholesterol. So consider the total level derived from home cholesterol testing to be an overview number.

Specific Methods of Testing Cholesterol

There are several other testing methods that measure HDL or LDL cholesterol in even more detail, such as the HDL2 or HDL3 levels. At this point, most healthcare providers do not recommend this type of cholesterol test.
(Click Cholesterol Numbers to understand what your cholesterol levels mean.)
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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