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How to Calculate LDL Cholesterol

Find out your low-density lipoprotein, or LDL levels using this calculation.


  • Step 1: Consider having a test that measures LDL directly if you would like as accurate a result as possible.
  • FACT: When too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can form plaque that can narrow the arteries. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, a heart attack or stroke may result.
  • Step 2: Plug these measurements into the Friedewald equation: LDL equals total cholesterol minus HDL minus triglycerides divided by five.
  • Step 3: Note the measurements of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein or HDL, and triglycerides when you get the results of the test back. In the United States, cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood.
  • TIP: You have to fast before the test because measured triglyceride levels can shoot up 20 to 30 percent after a meal.
  • Step 4: Have a fasting cholesterol test. This means consuming no food or liquids other than water for nine to 12 hours before the test.

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