Pathology Handbook

Cholesterol (HDL)


High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol

Clinical Indications

Cholesterol circulates in blood bound to lipoproteins; the two main ones being low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL concentrations are inversely correlated with risk of athersclerosis, that is, high levels are beneficial. Modest increases in total cholesterol may be due to increased HDL cholesterol so it is important that HDL is measured before any treatment is initiated.

Part of Profile

Fasting lipids

Request Form

Request on ICE


On request. 

Patient Preparation

If HDL cholesterol is requested as part of a lipid profile then patient must fast for 10 hours prior to blood collection (for follow up tests diabetic patients may not need to fast). Patients do not need to fast if only HDL cholesterol is requested. 

Turnaround Time

Same day




2 ml


Vacutainer gold top

Causes for Rejection

Unlabelled or incorrectly labelled sample

Reference Range

The concept of a reference range is flawed and acceptable levels depend on presence of other coronary risk factors. Ideally levels should be >0.9 mmol/L. For primary prevention use risk tables which incorporate a total:HDL cholesterol ratio.


Low HDL levels may be associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes and physical inactivity.