In order to calculate high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratios, divide the total cholesterol by the HDL number, according to the American Heart Association. For example, if the total cholesterol is 200 and the HDL is 50, then the cholesterol ratio equals 4:1
It's better to maintain lower levels of LDL and higher levels of HDL. LDL contributes to plaque build-up in the arteries which leads to heart attack, stroke and other heart-related diseases if the artery becomes blocked. It's commonly referred to as "bad" cholesterol. HDL is the "good" cholesterol, and it can help reduce the LDL cholesterol in the arteries. It aids in breaking down the plaque and carrying it back to the liver, where it's further broken down and passed out of the body.
Low levels of HDL increase the risk of heart disease, while higher levels help protect against risk, indicates Healthline. The optimal ratio is 3.5:1, but the overall goal is to maintain a ratio below 5:1. The optimal total cholesterol is 180 milligrams per deciliter of blood or less. In men, cholesterol ratios of 5:1 indicate an average risk for heart disease, while 3.4:1 is considered low risk. In women, the ratios should be lower, with 4.4:1 being average and 3.3:1 being low risk. A woman's risk for heart disease doubles with a ratio of 7:1.