HDL cholesterol low. What does this mean? - Cholesterol Support

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HDL cholesterol low. What does this mean?

Layla27jane profile image
4 Replies

Hi, I am not sure if I’m in the right group but here goes.

I’ve been having blood tests for different reasons and today I asked for a print out. So I have received that today and it states Serum HDL cholesterol level 1.2 ‘LOW’

I have no idea what this is or what this means as the doctor haven’t said anything to me.

Can anyone give me some information regarding this please

4 Replies
sandybrown profile image

From the print out you can look for other numbers as well for guide lines.

An ideal level of HDL is above 1mmol/L. A lower level of HDL can increase your risk of heart disease.

( Serum HDL cholesterol level 1.2 ‘LOW’) you need to ask your GP for a full explanation and to do a risk analysis.

Here the numbers are explained:

Total Cholesterol (TC) - this is the total amount of cholesterol in your blood. Ideally it should be 5 mmol/L* or less

•Non HDL-Cholesterol this is your total cholesterol minus your HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) and is the sum all the "bad" cholesterols added together (including LDL cholesterol) - ideally it should be 4 mmol/L* or less

•LDL-Cholesterol (LDL-C) - this is the amount of LDL-cholesterol), ideally it should be 3 mmol/L* or less

•HDL-Cholesterol (HDL-C) - the amount of good cholesterol, ideally it should be over 1 mmol/L* (men) and over 1.2 mmol/L* (women).

•TC:HDL ratio This is the TC figure divided by the HDL-C figure. A ratio above 6 is considered high risk - the lower this figure is the better.

•Triglyceride (TG) this represent your body's ability to clear fat from the blood after a meal. Ideally it should be less than 1.7 mmol/L* on a fasting sample or less than 2.3 mmol/L on a non fasting sample) ​

** mmol/L stands for millimoles per litre

Londinium profile image

Two websites to help you carry out your own research:-



sos007 profile image

Cholesterol is a lipid (fat) and is therefore hydrophobic (does not mix with water). In order for it to move around in the bloodstream, it requires a carrier - a protein particle. LDL is the atherosclerotic component of cholesterol (it causes plaque accumulation and that's why it is called the 'bad' cholesterol) and it uses protein particles to transport it from the liver, where it is created, to tissues that have been damaged (due to inflammation). When these tissues are in your endothelium (inner lining of your arteries), the LDL embeds itself into the wall of the endothelium and along with other components of cholesterol begin to form plaques.

HDL, also produced by the liver, is also ferried around by protein particles in the blood. Its job is to scavenge extra LDL particles in your bloodstream and in the plaque, and then carry them back to the liver which will move it to the intestines through bile ducts for disposal from the body. This is why it is called 'good' cholesterol because it helps your body rid itself of the 'bad' LDL cholesterol. This process is called RCT or Reverse Cholesterol Transport.

Optimally, you should have 1.6 mmol/l of HDL-C when you measure your lipids during a blood test. At this level a significant portion of your LDL-C is being removed and therefore the damage they cause is minimized.

The best way to increase your HDL-C is to consume more vegetables and legumes, less animal protein, avoid sugar and simple carbs, and to exercise daily. Taking Niacin supplements will also increase HDL in your blood. Niacin has a mild side-effect that is totally harmless - it causes a temporary flush as the blood vessels under your skin dilate for about 45 minutes. This creates a sensation of tingling and warmth and your skin turns red. This effect diminishes with extended use of Niacin as well as ensuring you take Niacin with a cold glass of water and on a full stomach.

Blueberries and blackberries also increase HDL cholesterol.

By following the Mediterranean diet and exercising daily, I have managed to increase my HDL to 2.5 mmol/l which is actually higher than the 2.4 mmol/l of LDL in my bloodstream.

Thus it is likely that, in my case, the accumulated plaque is gradually being removed over an extended time frame and resulting in the unclogging of my arteries.

If you would like to learn about my journey and process to lower LDL and increase HDL, you can read all of my posts here:


Good luck.

Springray profile image


As stated by Sandy Brown's reply your HDL is borderline low.

We would need to know your other numbers and your family history of heart disease/ strokes to know if this is a problem for your health personally.

HDL is the scavenger molecule to get rid of the more damaging LDL in the blood, so if your LDL level is ok, then we worry less about you needing a higher HDL level.

Also note that Malcolm Kendrick and the Fat Emperor are both not cardiologists. I prefer to get my information from doctors who are practising heart disease prevention such as Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr Dean Ornish, Dr Michael Gregor and Dr Joel Fuhrman (The End of Heart Disease).

If you are still worried and you have a family history of heart disease, ask your GP to refer to a cardiologist. It's never too early to take preventive action.

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