It might seem a little daunting, but measuring your blood cholesterol is a great first step in becoming healthier.

This simple test – carried out by your doctor, nurse or pharmacist – will give you a cholesterol level. And if you know your level, you can do something about it.

Anyone can have their blood cholesterol level tested, but it’s particularly important for people that
any of the following apply to: 1

  • over 40 years old
  • have a family history of early cardiovascular disease or a cholesterol-related condition
  • diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini-stroke, or leg artery disease
  • overweight or obese
  • have high blood pressure or diabetes
  • diagnosed with another medical condition that can cause increased levels of cholesterol
    or triglycerides, such as a kidney condition, an underactive thyroid gland or an inflamed
    pancreas (pancreatitis)

What is ‘high’ cholesterol?
Your cholesterol level is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L. The Government recommends that healthy adults should have a total cholesterol level below 5 mmol/L.

But your total cholesterol level includes LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) – and the balance between the levels of these two types of cholesterol is also important.

The risk of heart disease is particularly high if you have a high level of LDL cholesterol and a low level of HDL cholesterol.

It’s also important to remember that other factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure, are also risk factors for the development of heart disease.


1. Health Service Executive: Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte. Conditions & Treatments:
Cholesterol, high. Available at:,-high/ Last
accessed: November 2018.