Cholesterol resembles fat in terms of its composition; it is not soluble in water. Therefore, cholesterol travels in the bloodstream bound to specific transport proteins (lipoproteins). HDL cholesterol is a combination of cholesterol and lipoprotein in the blood, and its task is to transport cholesterol from tissues and vein walls to the liver to be broken down. It is also called “good” cholesterol.
When should HDL cholesterol be measured?
Obesity, hypertension, diabetes, low level of physical exercise, smoking, and genetic factors increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The measurement of HDL cholesterol is used in quantifying the risk. The test is often included in health check-ups, and other cholesterol levels are also usually measured at the same time.
An adult should have their cholesterol tested at least once every 3–5 years. In the case of an elevated level or an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, the test should be taken more frequently.
What does an HDL cholesterol test measure?
Cholesterol is important. It is needed in the production of cells and fluids secreted from the gallbladder. Cholesterol is also a precursor of certain hormones and vitamin D, for example. The body produces the majority of cholesterol in the liver and other tissues, meaning that only part of it comes from food.
Cholesterol resembles fat in composition, and it is not soluble in water. Therefore, it does not travel on its own in the bloodstream, but something has to carry it. This task is handled by specific transport proteins that carry cholesterol from the tissues and bloodstream to the liver. The level of these substances is measured with the HDL cholesterol test.
How to interpret the S-Kol-HDL test result?
The recommended target value for women is >1.2 mmol/l and for men >1.0 mmol/l.
With regard to cholesterol, target values are used instead of regular reference values.
A high HDL level is better than a low level. Low HDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. Abnormally high levels, however, do not protect from such diseases.
HDL levels are influenced by sex, genetic factors, and lifestyle. Women usually have a higher level of HDL cholesterol, which is due to the female sex hormone (oestrogen). This difference between the sexes evens out after menopause. The level of HDL is also influenced by the genes inherited from parents to some extent.
Food has a lesser impact on HDL cholesterol than it has on LDL cholesterol. HDL levels can, however, be elevated with physical exercise. Waist obesity affects the HDL cholesterol concentration in the blood. Waist obesity also causes fat to accumulate inside the abdominal cavity, which has a negative effect on the metabolism. One of the consequences is a decrease in HDL cholesterol. The level of triglycerides also often increases in this case, blood pressure rises and sugar metabolism is affected, and it can lead to type 2 diabetes in the long run. This combination of risk factors for arterial disease is known as metabolic syndrome.
Losing weight and increasing physical exercise effectively improves the amount of HDL cholesterol and also other disorders associated with metabolic syndrome.
Dyslipidaemia is a condition in which the blood LDL cholesterol level is elevated (above 3.0 mmol/l), triglyceride concentration is elevated (above 1.7 mmol/l), HDL cholesterol is low (below 1.0 mmol/l in men, below 1.2 mmol/l in women), or a combination of these.
A more accurate measure of the risk of coronary artery disease than an individual cholesterol measurement is the ratio of overall cholesterol to HDL cholesterol, which should be 4 at the maximum.
Any disorder of fat metabolism will be found with these tests.
If abnormal values are observed in the tests, you should consult a physician.
What can cause elevated S-Kol-HDL values?
- Plentiful exercise
- Alcohol consumption: the negative effects of high alcohol consumption offset its positive impacts on HDL cholesterol.
- Oestrogen therapy
What can cause decreased S-Kol-HDL values?
- Excess weight
- Type 2 diabetes
- Low level of physical activity
- Excessive triglyceride level in the blood
- Obstruction of the bile duct
- Anabolic steroids
- Antihypertensive drugs
The most typical additional fS-Kol-HDL tests:
- Lipids (link). This single test can measure the level of all fats in the blood.
- Total cholesterol (fS-Kol-HDL) (link). This test measures the proportion of “good” cholesterol in total cholesterol.
- LDL cholesterol (fS-Kol) (link). This test measures the total cholesterol concentration in the blood.
- Triglycerides (fS-Trigly)(link). This test measures the level of triglycerides in the blood.
Terveyskirjasto health library: Kolesteroli (fP-Kol)
SYNLAB test list: Cholesterol (2095 fS-Kol, 4515 fP-Kol)
Nykopp J. Kolesteroliarvo kertoo elintavoistasi. Potilaan lääkärilehti (Patient's Medical Journal) 2015.
Fasting is not required
This examination does not require fasting