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Cholesterol ratio: Is it important?

For predicting your risk of heart disease, many doctors now believe that determining your non-HDL cholesterol level may be more useful than calculating your cholesterol ratio. And either option appears to be a better risk predictor than your total cholesterol level or even your low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol level.

To calculate your cholesterol ratio, divide your high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol number into your total cholesterol number. An optimal ratio is less than 3.5-to-1. A higher ratio means a higher risk of heart disease.

Non-HDL cholesterol, as its name implies, simply subtracts your HDL cholesterol number from your total cholesterol number. So it contains all the "bad" types of cholesterol.

An optimal level of non-HDL cholesterol is less than 130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.37 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). Higher numbers mean a higher risk of heart disease.

Last updated: April 28th, 2015

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