HDL Cholesterol (High-density lipoprotein cholesterol)

Clinical definition of the HDL Cholesterol test
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) also called as the "good" cholesterol is one of the five major groups of lipoproteins which enable lipids like cholesterol, triglycerides and other fats to be transported within bloodstream. They are named in order of their sizes i.e. from the smallest to the largest as follows:

  • Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL)
  • low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • Intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL)
  • high density lipoprotein (HDL)

HDL helps to soak up excess of cholesterol from the walls of blood vessels and tissues of the body. It is then carried to the liver where it breaks down and is eventually removed or excreted from the body in the bile. HDL cholesterol is therefore considered the "good" cholesterol. The higher the HDL cholesterol level, the lower the risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular problem.

Why is the HDL Cholesterol test done?
HDL is usually done as part of an overall lipid profile along with other lipid tests such as cholesterol, LDL-"bad" cholesterol, and triglycerides. The combined information gathered from all of these tests may help assess the risk of heart diseases. It may also be done as part of a lipid profile during a health check-up which is advised periodically in adults depending on their lifestyle.

What are the common signs/symptoms when the HDL Cholesterol test is done?

  • Hypertension 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Pain, fullness, and/or squeezing sensation of the chest
  • Jaw pain, toothache, headache
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or general epigastric (upper middle abdomen) discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Heartburn and/or indigestion
  • Arm pain (more commonly the left arm, but may be either arm)
  • Upper back pain
  • General malaise (vague feeling of illness)

Who should do the HDL Cholesterol test (Target population)?
It may be ordered more frequently for those who have may have risk factors for heart disease such as:

  • Age (men 45 years or older or women 55 years or older)
  • Overweight or obese people
  • Smokers
  • Heavy drinkers
  • People with a family history of heart disease or health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension),
  • People who consume excess of saturated fats - found mostly in animal products and trans-fatty acids -found in fast foods and commercially processed food products.
  • Pre-existing heart disease or those who have already had a heart attack

What should I do before the HDL Cholesterol test?

Specimen type

Specimen collection procedure

Preparatory instructions during specimen collection*

Serum (Blood Sample)

Venipuncture - Collection of blood from a vein, usually from the arm.

Fasting Required.

Fasting samples have to be collected after a minimum 12-14 hour overnight fasting status.

Clear fluids like water is allowed during this period. Refrain from consumption of early morning beverages like tea, coffee and milk until specimen collection is completed.

In case of diabetics on oral or injectable hypoglycemic agents, consult your physician about continuing with these medications prior to specimen collection.

Subjects suffering from any illness or on oral or injectable medications are advised to consult their physician prior to requesting any tests or procedures.

How do I interpret my HDL Cholesterol test results?



Less than 40 mg/dL (men)

Less than 50: mg/dL (women)

increased risk of heart disease

Greater than 60mg/dL:

protective against heart disease

Inference: With HDL (good) cholesterol, higher levels are better. Low HDL cholesterol puts you at higher risk for heart disease.
‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’

Diseases/condition related to the HDL Cholesterol test

  • Atherosclerotic heart disease
  • Familial combined hyperlipidemia
  • Noninsulin-dependent diabetes (NIDD)

Other tests related to the HDL Cholesterol test

  • Cholesterol 
  • LDL-Cholesterol
  • Triglycerides
  • Lipid profile
  • Apolipoprotein A-1
  • Apolipoprotein B (APO-B)
  • Cardiac risk profile


Book This Test
HDL Cholesterol

Book Related Tests
  • Triglycerides (Serum)
  • LDL Cholesterol
  • Cholesterol (Serum)
  • Lipid Profile

Read About Related Tests