Total cholesterol

Last Updated: October 7 2021

Total cholesterol refers to all the cholesterol in your blood (HDL-C and LDL-C). It is distinct from triglycerides.

Summary

Total cholesterol refers to all the cholesterol in your blood, so both HDL-C and LDL-C.

High-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry cholesterol from your blood to your liver. Conversely, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol from your liver to other parts of your body, via your blood. While higher levels of HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) tend to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), higher levels of LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) tend to increase it; for that reason, HDL-C is often called the “good cholesterol” and LDL-C the “bad cholesterol” — yet both are needed to keep you alive.

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