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How to Calculate Total Cholesterol Formula

author image Sarka-Jonae Miller
Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University.

Everyone knows that high cholesterol is bad. But that's a myth. In fact, there are two types of cholesterol to look out for. High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) help remove cholesterol from your body, so the are considered good for the body; low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) on the other hand, contribute to plaque building up in the walls of your arteries, which can cause blockages that lead to heart attacks and strokes.

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Triglyercides are another consideration when assessing cholesterol. They are a fatty substance that turns into the bad cholesterol, LDL.

To calculate your total cholesterol, all three of these substances must be taken into consideration. Simple blood tests can determine the levels of HDL, LDL and triglyercides in your body.

Cholesterol does have a purpose. It is used to make bile acids, which are necessary for metabolizing fat. But too much is dangerous. Ideally, you should have a total cholesterol value of less than 200 mg/dl.

How to Calculate Total Cholesterol

Step 1

Schedule a complete cholesterol test to determine your HDL, LDL and triglyercides. This can be done with your doctor. A local mall or grocery store or even the company you work for may also offer cholesterol screenings.

Step 2

Fast for at least nine hours prior to your test. Failure to fast may cause inaccurate results.

Step 3

Divide your triglyceride count by five or multiply by 20 percent (0.20). A triglyercide level of 100 mg/dl divided by five would be 20.

Step 4

Add the sum from Step 3 to your total HDL and LDL. These numbers should be in mg/dl units.

Step 5

Use the free online LDL calculator (see Resources) to check your work. Input the answer you got for your total cholesterol in the first box under the words "Total Cholesterol." Input your HDL number in the next box under the words "HDL Cholesterol." Put the total number of triglycerides under "Triglycerides." Hit the "Submit" button. The number it gives should match your original LDL number if you accurately calculated your Total Cholesterol.

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