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What does Total Cholesterol mean?
If you go into your doctor and he runs cholesterol testing, one of the measurements is called Total Cholesterol. Total Cholesterol tells us just that: the total cholesterol in a unit of blood. It does not tell us how much of what kinds of cholesterol are present. Remember that HDL is the “good cholesterol”, and it is inclusive in this measurement : so having lots of HDL will drive up the Total Cholesterol number. This may cause unnecessary concern.
What is HDL?
HDL stands for High-density lipoprotein. It’s important to note that the Jury is out on HDL cholesterol: though it’s generally thought that it’s safe. The rub here is that we still don’t understand a lot about what makes one’s blood cholesterol “healthy” or “harmful”, but we’re getting pretty good at nailing down the major things that drive atherosclerosis.
What else is measured in a cholesterol test?
Other measurements that are on the same panel are HDL-C and LDL-C. The “-C” designates that we’re looking at the Total Cholesterol carried by HDL and LDL. What this information is not telling us is how many HDL and LDL molecules are carrying this cholesterol? Ie. Are we looking at 100 half loaded dump trucks, or 50 fully loaded dump trucks? The research that we’ve been able to replicate is suggesting that the difference here matters, and it matters quite a lot. We’ll get into that in the next blog/video.