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How is High Cholesterol Diagnosed?

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High cholesterol is a significant health concern, as it can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Diagnosing high cholesterol is essential in managing and mitigating these risks.

At Lawrence Family Practice Center in Lawrence, KS, our caring team of healthcare providers offers cholesterol testing and other preventive medicine to help you live a long and healthy life.

Keep reading to learn more about the importance of cholesterol testing, how we diagnose high cholesterol, and ways to deal with this diagnosis.

Understanding cholesterol

Cholesterol testing is a crucial part of preventive medicine. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults aged 20 and older have their cholesterol checked every 4 – 6 years. However, if you have a family history of high cholesterol or other risk factors for heart disease, your healthcare provider may recommend more frequent testing.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is essential for various bodily functions, including cell membrane formation, hormone production, and vitamin D synthesis. However, too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can lead to the development of fatty deposits in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Cholesterol is carried through the bloodstream by two main types of lipoproteins:

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as "bad" cholesterol, transports cholesterol particles throughout the body. High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as "good" cholesterol, carries cholesterol from other parts of the body back to the liver, where it is broken down and removed from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can actually help reduce the risk of heart disease.

How is high cholesterol diagnosed?

At Lawrence Family Practice Center in Lawrence, KS, our team will perform a blood test called a lipid panel to diagnose high cholesterol. The lipid panel measures the levels of various lipids in the bloodstream, including LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

We may ask you to fast (not eat or drink anything other than water) for 9 – 12 hours before the blood test to ensure accurate measurements of your cholesterol levels.

During the test, one of our caring team members will draw a small blood sample, typically from a vein in your arm. The blood sample is sent to a laboratory, where LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides are measured and reported.

The results of your lipid panel will be interpreted in the context of your overall cardiovascular risk factors, such as age, sex, family history, smoking status, and blood pressure.

What test result numbers indicate high cholesterol?

Test results are usually reported in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The following are general guidelines for cholesterol levels:

LDL cholesterol:

  • Borderline high: 130 – 159 mg/dL
  • High: 160 –189 mg/dL
  • Very high: 190 mg/dL or higher

HDL cholesterol:

  • Low (increased risk of heart disease): Less than 40 mg/dL for men, less than 50 mg/dL for women
  • Optimal (reduced risk of heart disease): 60 mg/dL or higher


  • Borderline high: 150 –199 mg/dL
  • High: 200 – 499 mg/dL
  • Very high: 500 mg/dL or higher

Get treatment for high cholesterol in Lawrence, KS

If your cholesterol levels are elevated, the team at Lawrence Family Practice Center will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan. This may include lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and medication therapy if necessary.

By understanding how high cholesterol is diagnosed and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can take proactive steps to protect your heart health and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

At Lawrence Family Practice Center, we're committed to detecting the signs of chronic disease early so you can get the best preventive treatment possible. To schedule cholesterol testing, make an appointment with a member of the caring team of health care providers at our office in Lawrence, KS.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.