Total Cholesterol and HDL Ratio

Since total cholesterol is primarily composed of HDL and LDL, for a quick estimation of risk, you can calculate your total cholesterol and HDL ratio. To do this, divide your total cholesterol number by your HDL number. This method is based on the fact that high HDL levels relative to your total cholesterol are generally predictive of a lower risk of heart disease. While this estimate can give you a rough idea of your cholesterol-level breakdown, it is not recommended as a test upon which to base therapeutic treatment.

Today, the American Heart Association uses absolute numbers for LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. They are more useful to physicians than the cholesterol ratio in determining appropriate treatment for patients. If you're interested in calculating your ratio, the classifications are as follows:


TC/HD L Ratio


3.5 to 1


4.5 to 1


5 to 1 and above


To apply the formula, let's take an example of a woman with a total cholesterol level of 200 and an HDL level of 50. Her ratio is calculated by dividing 200 by 50, to equal a ratio of 4 to 1. According to this rough measure, her cholesterol is in the desirable range, but for a more comprehensive understanding, it's necessary to look at the entire spectrum of blood lipid levels.

Keep in mind that all of these numbers are not your health. They are tools to give you a better picture of the composition of your blood, which ultimately affects the health of your arteries and your heart. No matter what the test or technology, you hold the power to improve your own health and to feel and be your best. Your choices make all the difference between a better and longer life, or a sick life and untimely death.

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