Screening and Prevention

Your doctors will order routine lipid panel blood tests to screen for high blood cholesterol. The timing and frequency of these blood tests will depend on your age and risk factors or family history for high blood cholesterol or other cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack or stroke. Learn about heart-healthy lifestyle changes that your doctor may recommend to help you prevent high blood cholesterol.

Lipid panel tests to check for healthy blood cholesterol levels

Doctors use lipid panels to check whether you have healthy levels of cholesterol in your blood. A lipid panel will measure the total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and non-high-density lipoprotein (non-HDL) cholesterol levels in your blood. Non-HDL cholesterol includes low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and is calculated by subtracting your HDL cholesterol levels from your total cholesterol levels. See the table below to learn whether you have healthy blood cholesterol levels based on your age and sex.

Healthy blood cholesterol levels differ by age and sex. If you are age 19 or younger, your total cholesterol levels should be less than 170 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood, your non-HDL cholesterol level should be less than 120 mg/dL, your LDL cholesterol level should be less than 100 mg/dL, and your HDL cholesterol level should be more than 45 mg/dL. If you are age 20 or older, your total cholesterol should be between 125 and 200 mg/dL, your non-HDL cholesterol level should be less than 130 mg/dL, your LDL cholesterol level should be less than 100 mg/dL, and your HDL cholesterol level should be 40 mg/dL or higher if you are a man or 50 mg/dl or higher if you are a woman.
Healthy blood cholesterol levels differ by age and sex. If you are age 19 or younger, your total cholesterol levels should be less than 170 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood, your non-HDL cholesterol level should be less than 120 mg/dL, your LDL cholesterol level should be less than 100 mg/dL, and your HDL cholesterol level should be more than 45 mg/dL. If you are age 20 or older, your total cholesterol should be between 125 and 200 mg/dL, your non-HDL cholesterol level should be less than 130 mg/dL, your LDL cholesterol level should be less than 100 mg/dL, and your HDL cholesterol level should be 40 mg/dL or higher if you are a man or 50 mg/dl or higher if you are a woman.

When you receive this screening will depend on your age, risk factors, and family history of high blood cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart attack, or stroke.

  • Age 19 or younger. Screening begins at ages 9 to 11 and should be repeated every 5 years. Screening may be performed as early as age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke.
  • Age 20 or older. Younger adults should be screened every 5 years. Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should be screened every 1 to 2 years.

If your blood cholesterol levels are not within the healthy range for your age and sex, your doctor may also recommend heart-healthy lifestyle changes to help you lower or control your high blood cholesterol and order a repeat lipid profile test.

Did you know that cholesterol is an important part of many organs in our body and that high levels of bad types of cholesterol can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease?

Heart-healthy lifestyle changes to prevent high blood cholesterol

To prevent high blood cholesterol or if you have certain risk factors, your doctor may recommend that you adopt heart-healthy lifestyle changes, including eating healthy, being physically active, aiming for a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and managing stress.

Look for

  • Diagnosis will explain how doctors use lipid panel tests to diagnose high blood cholesterol.
  • Living With will discuss some additional medical care or lifestyle changes that your doctor may recommend to prevent your condition from recurring, getting worse, or causing serious complications such as heart attack or stroke.
  • Research for Your Health will explain how we are using current research and advancing research to prevent high blood cholesterol.
  • Participate in NHLBI Clinical Trials will explain our ongoing clinical studies that are investigating treatments for high blood cholesterol.