Total cholesterol is the calculation of all types of cholesterol in the body at the time of the evaluation. This includes high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), notes About.com. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends a total cholesterol level lower than 200 mg/dL.
Total cholesterol levels 240mg/dL or higher are considered too elevated; usually a plan to lower them is prescribed by a physician. LDL is bad cholesterol and HDL is good cholesterol. Anyone over 20 should get their cholesterol levels evaluated at least once every five years, recommends WebMD.