How to Calculate Total Cholesterol Formula

 by Sarka-Jonae Miller

Everyone knows that high cholesterol is bad. But that's a myth. In fact, there are two types of cholesterol to look out for.

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.

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.


People 20 years of age or older should be screened at least once every five years. You may wish to have your cholesterol checked more frequently if your family has a history of heart disease or if you are at risk because of such factors as smoking, obesity or high blood pressure. Your age, gender, race and diet will also affect your risk for coronary heart disease.


Coronary heart disease is the number one disease responsible for death in America. Approximately 20 percent of Americans are at risk due to high cholesterol. Do not miss tests or ignore results. Exercising to lose weight, stopping smoking, reducing alcoholic intake and taking to a doctor or nutritionist about adopting a healthier eating plan are all things you can do to lower your cholesterol and risk for a heart attack or stroke.


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