High cholesterol can only be detected through a blood test; it has no symptoms of its own. In biometric screening results, cholesterol will be measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL).1
A healthy level of LDL cholesterol for both males and females is less than 130 mg/dL.2 Most LDL cholesterol results are calculated from a formula based on measurements of total cholesterol and triglycerides. Triglycerides are sensitive to food and drink, so if a participant does not fast prior to screening, their triglyceride result, and thus their LDL cholesterol result, may not be an accurate representation of health status. In some cases, when a non-fasting screening is ordered or when triglycerides are very high, direct LDL cholesterol is measured instead of using triglycerides to calculate LDL. A direct LDL is a more accurate measurement for employer screenings that do not require fasting.
Unlike LDL cholesterol, higher levels of HDL cholesterol are more optimal. A healthy level of HDL cholesterol for males is greater than 40 mg/dL4, while a healthy level for females is greater than 50 mg/dL.3 Many doctors use HDL cholesterol levels to predict lifetime risk of a heart attack or stroke.