American College of Physicians (ACP) guidelines for a cholesterol test

The American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends the following:1

  • When a person is tested for the purpose of preventing coronary artery disease, his or her total cholesterol level should be measured once. If the result is near a point at which treatment is needed, the person may need to be tested periodically.
  • Testing for total cholesterol levels is not recommended for men younger than 35 or women younger than 45 unless their history or physical exam suggests a family history of high cholesterol or at least two other risk factors for coronary artery disease are present.
  • When testing is done for the purposes of preventing coronary artery disease, checking a total cholesterol level is reasonable but not always needed for men 35 to 65 years of age and for women 45 to 65 years of age.
  • There is not enough evidence to either recommend or discourage testing for the purposes of preventing coronary artery disease in men and women 65 to 75 years of age.
  • Testing is not recommended for men and women 75 years of age and older.
  • All people who have coronary artery disease, have had a stroke, or are at high risk for coronary artery disease should have a lipoprotein analysis or at least a measurement of total and HDL cholesterol levels.


  1. American College of Physicians (1996). Clinical guideline, part 1: Guidelines for using serum cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and screening tests for preventing coronary heart disease in adults. Annals of Internal Medicine, 124(5): 515–517. Also available online: (accessed: August 25, 2004).

Last Updated: August 13, 2009

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