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How Do I Convert
My Cholesterol Values into American?

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

Article printed on page 20 in the September 18-19, 2004 issue of
The Mississauga News under the Feature: Health & Wellness, Doctor's Corner.
Dr Peter W Kujtan

Many snowbirds heading south feel shut out in the poolside medical exchange because we use different standards of measure. The "Canadian" system is more properly called the SI or Systeme Internationale d'Units. It is an international standard recognized around the world except by the United States of America, Liberia, and Myanmar (Burma) who will probably adopt it in due time. The SI system is more accurate and makes more sense since it considers the number of molecules of a substance in the blood. The United States system considers the weight of substance in the blood.

To convert your cholesterol into Floridian, simply multiply the value by 39. For example, if your cholesterol comes in at 5.2 mmol/L, multiplying this by 39 yields a value 202 mg/dL. The same conversion factor of 39 applies to HDL and LDL values. However, your triglyceride values must be multiplied by 89.

For diabetics wishing to converse in American sugar lingo, the conversion is 18. A blood sugar reading of 7.5 mmole/L multiplied by 18 yields 135 mg/dL.

Armed with these simple conversion factors you can prepare to spend many afternoons impressing our American neighbors with your bilingual knowledge of lab values, and then exchange stories of how to amazingly improve the numbers without actually following your doctor's advice. Drive carefully and beware of rain that falls sideways.

Related resources:

Cholesterol Units, mmol/L, mg/dL Conversion from FatFreeKitchen.com
Cholesterol from Dictionary of Units, Cleave Books, UK, SI Units for Clinical Data from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Do You Know Your Heart Numbers? from WebMD - Cholesterol is considered abnormal when: Total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or higher. HDL or "good" cholesterol level is less than 40 mg/dL. LDL or "bad" cholesterol is 160 mg/dL or higher -- with 190 and above being very high. However, the lower the LDL, the better.

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