How Do You Calculate the Risks of an LDL and HDL Cholesterol Ratio?


Quick Answer

Divide the total cholesterol number by the HDL (“good”) cholesterol number, states WebMD, as the resulting number tells the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol — the best ratio is a 5 to 1 ratio. A lower ratio means LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels are higher than they should be.

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Full Answer

Total cholesterol calculations include the amounts of HDL and LDL cholesterol. Both contribute to the presence of cholesterol, an important fatty substance, in the body, states WebMD. High levels of LDL, a more dangerous measure of cholesterol than HDL, lead to the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Too much plaque can cause atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

However, higher levels of HDL benefit the body by transporting LDL cholesterol so that the liver can remove the LDL. If the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol is 5 to 1, then the body is operating on a good amount of the substance. Still, doctors say the total cholesterol amount on its own as well as the total of LDL cholesterol is a better indication of how healthy the body is, Mayo Clinic states. Knowing the total amount helps doctors devise ways to lower LDL levels.

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