Cholesterol Values to Know

Cholesterol Values to Know


Most people with high cholesterol don’t even know they have it. There are usually no warning signs, which is why a high cholesterol is known as a “silent killer”. The only way to find out is to have your blood drawn and tested. For an accurate result, you will need to have fasted from food and liquids for at least 8 hours before the test. It is important to understand what the results mean.


What should my cholesterol levels be?

For most healthy people normal cholesterol levels should be as follows:

  • Total cholesterol should be less than 5 mmol/L
  • LDL cholesterol level should be less than 3 mmol/L
  • HDL cholesterol levels should be more than 1.2 mmol/L for women or 1.0 mmol/L for men
  • Fasting triglyceride levels should be less than 1.7 mmol/L


If you have a  higher-than-normal risk for cardiovascular events you may have to be given stricter individual targets as advised by your doctor. This includes if you have:

  • Existing heart disease, previous strokes or heart attacks, peripheral vascular disease
  • Diabetes, kidney disease and other medical conditions that increase the risk of heart disease
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia (inherited high cholesterol)


How often should cholesterol be tested?

It is recommended the all adults have their blood draw to test your level of blood fats in general at least once in young adulthood (from age of 20). If cholesterol levels are normal, then you should have another test in a few years’ time. Should you have diabetes, kidney disease or be overweight, you should have your cholesterol levels monitored more frequently by your doctor.

If your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels are high or you are at a high risk of heart disease, cholesterol levels should be checked every six months. Children don’t need to have their levels tested unless they have a family history.




Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window

Reference: Delport R. Familial hypercholesterolaemia in South Africans: tracking findings and developments over time - with reference to : prevalence of hypercholesterolaemia in young Afrikaners with myocardial infarction. Ischaemic heart disease risk factors. Cardiovasc J Afr. 2009;20(1):18-22.

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