Blood test

High total cholesterol level in the blood

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High total cholesterol level in the blood

What is high cholesterol level in the blood called?

  • Hypercholesterolemia

What is the normal cholesterol level in the blood?

If you need to know which are the cholesterol reference ranges or you require more information about the role of cholesterol in the blood you can visit: Normal cholesterol level in the blood

What does a high cholesterol level in the blood mean?

A high level of cholesterol in the blood, called hypercholesterolemia, is a sign of a metabolic problem. It can be due to an unhealthy lifestyle (unbalanced diet, sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise) or an excessive production of cholesterol in the liver.

Cholesterol in the blood is used as a cardiovascular risk factor. Cholesterol level estimates the possibility of suffering a cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, etc.). The higher the cholesterol level in the blood the higher the possibility to suffer a cardiovascular disorder. The possibility increases if there are additional cardiovascular risks (overweight, smoking, high blood pressure, etc.).

Cholesterol values are usually given in mg/dl but sometimes you can see those values in mmol/l following the International System of Units (SI). In case your values are in mmol/l you can convert them using this tool:

mmol/l
  • Mild hypercholesterolemia (200 - 240 mg/dl in adults):

    Cholesterol in the blood is a bit high but for the moment, it is not a matter for concern.

    In people at low cardiovascular risk, it is advisable to practice regular exercise and keep a balanced diet. It is recommended to monitor the cholesterol level every 6 to 12 months.

    In people at high cardiovascular risk (with previous heart attacks or strokes), it should be considered if taking medication to reduce cholesterol (statins) is appropriate.

  • Moderate hypercholesterolemia (240 to 300 mg/dl in adults):

    Moderate hypercholesterolemia requires follow-up.

    In people at low cardiovascular risk and with less than two cardiovascular risk factors (obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle) only diet and regular exercise is required. In case of more than two cardiovascular risk factors, medication should be added.

    In people at high cardiovascular risk (with previous cardiovascular problems), medication is needed.

  • Marked hypercholesterolemia (300 - 400 mg/dl in adults):

    Cholesterol level is too high and requires regular follow-up.

    In people at low cardiovascular risk (no smoking, no obesity, no diabetes and no high blood pressure), it is recommended to follow a strict diet and take regular exercise.

    In people at high cardiovascular risk, it is advisable to add pharmacological treatment, with potent cholesterol-lowering drugs.

    It is recommended to monitor the cholesterol level frequently (every 3 to 6 months).

  • Severe hypercholesterolemia (> 400 mg/dl in adults):

    Severe hypercholesterolemia is associated generally with genetic disorders. There is usually a family history of cardiovascular diseases at an early age.

    You should keep an exhaustive follow-up and regular monitor in lipid metabolism units. The risk of suffering a cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, angina pectoris, etc.) at an early age is very high.

    The treatment is to follow a strict diet and take potent cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Which factors can raise the cholesterol level in the blood?

There are some health circumstances or drugs than can raise your cholesterol level in the blood:

  • Alcohol
  • High intake of fat
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress
  • Tobacco
  • Drugs
    • Antiarrhythmic agents
      • Amiodarone
    • Oral Contraceptives
    • Antidepressant
      • Imipramine
    • Antiepileptic drugs
      • Carbamazepine
      • Phenytoin
      • Phenobarbital
    • Beta blockers
    • Catecholamine
      • Epinephrine
    • Corticosteroids
      • Prednisone
    • Diuretics
      • Furosemide
      • Thiazides
    • Protease inhibitor
      • Amprenavir
      • Indinavir
      • Nelfinavir
      • Ritonavir
      • Saquinavir
    • Immunosuppressive drug
      • Azathioprine
      • Ciclosporin
      • Sirolimus
    • Retinoid
      • Isotretinoin
      • Retinol

Which diseases can raise your cholesterol level in the blood?

There are many medical diseases why the cholesterol level in the blood can be higher than normal:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cholestasis
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Lipodystrophy
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Anorexia
  • Hypercalcaemia
  • Lupus

What can I do to lower the cholesterol level in the blood?

If your cholesterol level in the blood is high, you should follow a healthy lifestyle:

  • Take regular exercise.
  • Follow a diet low in saturated fats and rich in fruits, vegetables and fish.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco.

If your doctor considers it appropriate he may prescribe you cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins).

Where can I find more information about cholesterol level in the blood?

You can visit our pages about:

Which values are considered a high cholesterol level in the blood?

The following values are considered to be above the normal range:

IMPORTANT: These levels are expressed in mg/dl. They are an example of a healthy man of about 45 years old with no known disease and not taking any medication. The ranges can be different depending on the laboratory or on your personal circumstances.

Total cholesterol
Status
Mild hypercholesterolemia
201 mg/dl202 mg/dl203 mg/dl204 mg/dl205 mg/dl206 mg/dl207 mg/dl208 mg/dl
209 mg/dl210 mg/dl211 mg/dl212 mg/dl213 mg/dl214 mg/dl215 mg/dl216 mg/dl
217 mg/dl218 mg/dl219 mg/dl220 mg/dl221 mg/dl222 mg/dl223 mg/dl224 mg/dl
225 mg/dl226 mg/dl227 mg/dl228 mg/dl229 mg/dl230 mg/dl231 mg/dl232 mg/dl
233 mg/dl234 mg/dl235 mg/dl236 mg/dl237 mg/dl238 mg/dl239 mg/dl240 mg/dl
Moderate hypercholesterolemia
241 mg/dl242 mg/dl243 mg/dl244 mg/dl245 mg/dl246 mg/dl247 mg/dl248 mg/dl
249 mg/dl250 mg/dl251 mg/dl252 mg/dl253 mg/dl254 mg/dl255 mg/dl256 mg/dl
257 mg/dl258 mg/dl259 mg/dl260 mg/dl261 mg/dl262 mg/dl263 mg/dl264 mg/dl
265 mg/dl266 mg/dl267 mg/dl268 mg/dl269 mg/dl270 mg/dl271 mg/dl272 mg/dl
273 mg/dl274 mg/dl275 mg/dl276 mg/dl277 mg/dl278 mg/dl279 mg/dl280 mg/dl
281 mg/dl282 mg/dl283 mg/dl284 mg/dl285 mg/dl286 mg/dl287 mg/dl288 mg/dl
289 mg/dl290 mg/dl291 mg/dl292 mg/dl293 mg/dl294 mg/dl295 mg/dl296 mg/dl
297 mg/dl298 mg/dl299 mg/dl300 mg/dl    
Marked hypercholesterolemia
301 mg/dl302 mg/dl303 mg/dl304 mg/dl305 mg/dl306 mg/dl307 mg/dl308 mg/dl
309 mg/dl310 mg/dl311 mg/dl312 mg/dl313 mg/dl314 mg/dl315 mg/dl316 mg/dl
317 mg/dl318 mg/dl319 mg/dl320 mg/dl321 mg/dl322 mg/dl323 mg/dl324 mg/dl
325 mg/dl326 mg/dl327 mg/dl328 mg/dl329 mg/dl330 mg/dl331 mg/dl332 mg/dl
333 mg/dl334 mg/dl335 mg/dl336 mg/dl337 mg/dl338 mg/dl339 mg/dl340 mg/dl
341 mg/dl342 mg/dl343 mg/dl344 mg/dl345 mg/dl346 mg/dl347 mg/dl348 mg/dl
349 mg/dl350 mg/dl351 mg/dl352 mg/dl353 mg/dl354 mg/dl355 mg/dl356 mg/dl
357 mg/dl358 mg/dl359 mg/dl360 mg/dl361 mg/dl362 mg/dl363 mg/dl364 mg/dl
365 mg/dl366 mg/dl367 mg/dl368 mg/dl369 mg/dl370 mg/dl371 mg/dl372 mg/dl
373 mg/dl374 mg/dl375 mg/dl376 mg/dl377 mg/dl378 mg/dl379 mg/dl380 mg/dl
381 mg/dl382 mg/dl383 mg/dl384 mg/dl385 mg/dl386 mg/dl387 mg/dl388 mg/dl
389 mg/dl390 mg/dl391 mg/dl392 mg/dl393 mg/dl394 mg/dl395 mg/dl396 mg/dl
397 mg/dl398 mg/dl399 mg/dl400 mg/dl    
Severe hypercholesterolemia
401 mg/dl402 mg/dl403 mg/dl404 mg/dl405 mg/dl406 mg/dl407 mg/dl408 mg/dl
409 mg/dl410 mg/dl411 mg/dl412 mg/dl413 mg/dl414 mg/dl415 mg/dl416 mg/dl
417 mg/dl418 mg/dl419 mg/dl420 mg/dl421 mg/dl422 mg/dl423 mg/dl424 mg/dl
425 mg/dl426 mg/dl427 mg/dl428 mg/dl429 mg/dl430 mg/dl431 mg/dl432 mg/dl
433 mg/dl434 mg/dl435 mg/dl436 mg/dl437 mg/dl438 mg/dl439 mg/dl440 mg/dl
441 mg/dl442 mg/dl443 mg/dl444 mg/dl445 mg/dl446 mg/dl447 mg/dl448 mg/dl
449 mg/dl450 mg/dl451 mg/dl452 mg/dl453 mg/dl454 mg/dl455 mg/dl456 mg/dl
457 mg/dl458 mg/dl459 mg/dl460 mg/dl461 mg/dl462 mg/dl463 mg/dl464 mg/dl
465 mg/dl466 mg/dl467 mg/dl468 mg/dl469 mg/dl470 mg/dl471 mg/dl472 mg/dl
473 mg/dl474 mg/dl475 mg/dl476 mg/dl477 mg/dl478 mg/dl479 mg/dl480 mg/dl
481 mg/dl482 mg/dl483 mg/dl484 mg/dl485 mg/dl486 mg/dl487 mg/dl488 mg/dl
489 mg/dl490 mg/dl491 mg/dl492 mg/dl493 mg/dl494 mg/dl495 mg/dl496 mg/dl
497 mg/dl498 mg/dl499 mg/dl500 mg/dl501 mg/dl502 mg/dl503 mg/dl504 mg/dl
505 mg/dl506 mg/dl507 mg/dl508 mg/dl509 mg/dl510 mg/dl511 mg/dl512 mg/dl
513 mg/dl514 mg/dl515 mg/dl516 mg/dl517 mg/dl518 mg/dl519 mg/dl520 mg/dl
521 mg/dl522 mg/dl523 mg/dl524 mg/dl525 mg/dl526 mg/dl527 mg/dl528 mg/dl
529 mg/dl530 mg/dl531 mg/dl532 mg/dl533 mg/dl534 mg/dl535 mg/dl536 mg/dl
537 mg/dl538 mg/dl539 mg/dl540 mg/dl541 mg/dl542 mg/dl543 mg/dl544 mg/dl
545 mg/dl546 mg/dl547 mg/dl548 mg/dl549 mg/dl550 mg/dl551 mg/dl552 mg/dl
553 mg/dl554 mg/dl555 mg/dl556 mg/dl557 mg/dl558 mg/dl559 mg/dl560 mg/dl
561 mg/dl562 mg/dl563 mg/dl564 mg/dl565 mg/dl566 mg/dl567 mg/dl568 mg/dl
569 mg/dl570 mg/dl571 mg/dl572 mg/dl573 mg/dl574 mg/dl575 mg/dl576 mg/dl
577 mg/dl578 mg/dl579 mg/dl580 mg/dl581 mg/dl582 mg/dl583 mg/dl584 mg/dl
585 mg/dl586 mg/dl587 mg/dl588 mg/dl589 mg/dl590 mg/dl591 mg/dl592 mg/dl
593 mg/dl594 mg/dl595 mg/dl596 mg/dl597 mg/dl598 mg/dl599 mg/dl600 mg/dl
601 mg/dl602 mg/dl603 mg/dl604 mg/dl605 mg/dl606 mg/dl607 mg/dl608 mg/dl
609 mg/dl610 mg/dl611 mg/dl612 mg/dl613 mg/dl614 mg/dl615 mg/dl616 mg/dl
617 mg/dl618 mg/dl619 mg/dl620 mg/dl621 mg/dl622 mg/dl623 mg/dl624 mg/dl
625 mg/dl626 mg/dl627 mg/dl628 mg/dl629 mg/dl630 mg/dl631 mg/dl632 mg/dl
633 mg/dl634 mg/dl635 mg/dl636 mg/dl637 mg/dl638 mg/dl639 mg/dl640 mg/dl
641 mg/dl642 mg/dl643 mg/dl644 mg/dl645 mg/dl646 mg/dl647 mg/dl648 mg/dl
649 mg/dl650 mg/dl651 mg/dl652 mg/dl653 mg/dl654 mg/dl655 mg/dl656 mg/dl
657 mg/dl658 mg/dl659 mg/dl660 mg/dl661 mg/dl662 mg/dl663 mg/dl664 mg/dl
665 mg/dl666 mg/dl667 mg/dl668 mg/dl669 mg/dl670 mg/dl671 mg/dl672 mg/dl
673 mg/dl674 mg/dl675 mg/dl676 mg/dl677 mg/dl678 mg/dl679 mg/dl680 mg/dl
681 mg/dl682 mg/dl683 mg/dl684 mg/dl685 mg/dl686 mg/dl687 mg/dl688 mg/dl
689 mg/dl690 mg/dl691 mg/dl692 mg/dl693 mg/dl694 mg/dl695 mg/dl696 mg/dl
697 mg/dl698 mg/dl699 mg/dl700 mg/dl701 mg/dl702 mg/dl703 mg/dl704 mg/dl
705 mg/dl706 mg/dl707 mg/dl708 mg/dl709 mg/dl710 mg/dl711 mg/dl712 mg/dl
713 mg/dl714 mg/dl715 mg/dl716 mg/dl717 mg/dl718 mg/dl719 mg/dl720 mg/dl
721 mg/dl722 mg/dl723 mg/dl724 mg/dl725 mg/dl726 mg/dl727 mg/dl728 mg/dl
729 mg/dl730 mg/dl731 mg/dl732 mg/dl733 mg/dl734 mg/dl735 mg/dl736 mg/dl
foto de Dr. Javier Muga Bustamante
Written by

Dr. Javier Muga Bustamante

Last update: 24/04/2020

Bibliography

  • Concise Book of Medical Laboratory Technology: Methods and Interpretations. 2nd Edition. 2015. Ramnik Sood. ISBN: 978-93-5152-333-8. Pag. 481.
  • Tietz. Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry. Carl A. Burtis, Edward R. Ashwood, David E. Bruns, Barbara G. Sawyer. WB Saunders Company, 2008. Pag 402. ISBN: 978-0-7216-3865-2.
  • Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE). Version 5.0.Published: November 27, 2017. U.S. Department of health and human Services. Disponible en: https://ctep.cancer.gov

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