There are several different types of cholesterol:

  • LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein): LDL cholesterol is also known as the "bad cholesterol." When there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, it builds up on the inside of the blood vessel walls, making it more difficult for blood to flow freely. This increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
  • HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein): HDL cholesterol is also known as the "good cholesterol." HDL cholesterol helps clear LDL cholesterol away from blood vessel walls, decreasing the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
  • VLDL-C (very-low-density lipoprotein): VLDL cholesterol is made in the liver. It is changed into LDL cholesterol in the blood.

Triglycerides (TG) are not the same thing as cholesterol. They are another type of fat often found in the body. TG is tested at the same time as cholesterol. TG can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. TG can also lower the levels of HDL cholesterol.

Total cholesterol (TC) can be measured directly from a blood test. It is calculated using the amounts of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides (used to help approximate VLDL) in your blood.

Non-HDL-cholesterol (Non-HDL-C) measures all types of cholesterol other than HDL-C. It is equal to the total cholesterol (TC) minus the HDL cholesterol. It is a good measure of how much harmful cholesterol a person has in their blood.

Wondering about your own cholesterol levels? Talk to your doctor about getting tested.

There are things that can increase your risk of heart disease, so talk to your doctor about other risk factors for heart disease that you may have.