This test is used to help assess the proportion of bad cholesterol in a person’s blood.
The total cholesterol in the bloodstream is made up of different fractions, including LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease) and HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, which offers protection). Bad cholesterol (LDL) can be assessed in different ways, for example, by determining the ratio between total cholesterol and good cholesterol (HDL) levels. The higher the proportion of bad cholesterol, the higher the ratio will be. This information is rarely used today, as current practice and treatment guidelines instead recommend specifically monitoring LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, or the fractions of non-HDL cholesterol or apolipoprotein B (see those headings).