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New cholesterol guidelines

Blood sample bottles

I just had my cholesterol checked by my GP and was given different measurements to when I’ve had it done previously. Can you explain why this is?

Senior Cardiac Nurse Christopher Allen says:

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the body that produces guidance and advice for health professionals, has recently produced new guidance on measuring cholesterol.

We need to consider other parts of ‘bad’ cholesterol

Previously, the focus was on your LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and HDL (‘good’) cholesterol levels, as well as the total cholesterol level. Research now tells us we also need to consider other parts of ‘bad’ cholesterol, known as IDL, VLDL and lipoprotein(a).

These parts of ‘bad’ cholesterol are collectively known as ‘non-HDL’ cholesterol, and this is the measurement you’ve probably now been given by your GP.

This measurement has been shown to help calculate your risk of developing cardiovascular disease more effectively than before. As a guide, your non-HDL cholesterol should be lower than 4mmol/L and your total cholesterol should be 5mmol/L or less.

The good news is that there’s no need to fast before the non-HDL cholesterol test, as you may have had to do for previous cholesterol tests.