4727.0.55.002 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2012-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/09/2014  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All  
Contents >> Biomedical Measures >> Cardiovascular disease (CVD) biomarkers >> High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol



High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), also known as 'good' cholesterol, picks up excess cholesterol in the blood and takes it to the liver where it is broken down.1 Low levels of HDL cholesterol may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The HDL cholesterol test measures the amount of ‘good’ cholesterol circulating in the blood at the time of the test.


HDL cholesterol results were obtained for persons aged 18 years and over, who agreed to participate in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey (NATSIHMS) and who provided a blood sample. Fasting was not required for this test.


A blood sample was collected from participants and HDL cholesterol levels were measured at the Douglass Hanly Moir (DHM) laboratory.

In the NATSIHMS cut off reference values for normal and abnormal results were sourced from the 2001 lipid management guidelines2 and subsequently the 2005 position statement3 on lipid management by the National Heart Foundation Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (NHFA/CSANZ). These guidelines are based on epidemiological data and publications of major clinical trials.

In the NATSIHMS, there are two different cut off points that are available for HDL cholesterol, sex dependant and non-sex dependant. The following definitions were used for serum HDL cholesterol:

Cut off points for HDL cholesterol in the NATSIHMS

HDL cholesterol for females
HDL cholesterol for males
HDL cholesterol

Normal ≥1.3≥1.0≥1.0

Sex dependent cut off points were used in the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Biomedical Results, 2012-13 publication.

Further test information about the analysis method and machine used to measure HDL cholesterol levels is available in Excel spreadsheet format in the Downloads page of this product.

Data items

The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.


Points to be considered when interpreting data for this topic include the following:
  • HDL cholesterol results do not confirm a specific diagnosis without consultation with a health professional.
  • Age, gender and taking lipid lowering medications are all variables that may affect lipid and lipoprotein levels.4 As a result, the data should be interpreted with care.
  • There are a number of different test methods for measuring HDL cholesterol, which may produce different results. The data from this topic should therefore be used with caution when comparing HDL cholesterol results from other studies using a different test method or equation.
  • The NATSIHMS have provided two cut off points for reporting HDL levels, one that is non-sex dependant and one that is sex dependant. Users of the data may choose to use these different cut off points for comparability with other health surveys.

Comparability with other surveys

The NATSIHMS is the first ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey to collect biomedical information. Given it was also the first national level survey (ABS or otherwise) to collect such data for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, no comparisons with previous surveys for this population are possible.

However, biomedical data was also collected for all Australians in the 2011-12 National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) and information about comparisons between the NHMS results and those of non-ABS surveys is available from the Comparisons with other Australian surveys section of the Biomedical Results for Chronic Diseases, 2011-12 publication.


1 National Heart Foundation of Australia, 2013, Cholesterol, <http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/NAHU-Cholesterol.pdf>, Last accessed 08/09/2014.
2 National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, 2001, Lipid Management Guidelines - 2001, <http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/Lipid-management-guidelines.pdf>, Last accessed 08/09/2014.
3 National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, 2005, Position Statement on Lipid Management - 2005, <http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/sitecollectiondocuments/the-lipid-position-statement.pdf>, Last accessed 08/09/2014.
4 Appleton CA, Caldwell G, McNeil A, Meerkin M, Sikaris K, Sullivan DR, Thomas DW, and DP Tognarini, Australian Pathology Lipid Interest Group, 2007, Recommendations for Lipid Testing and Reporting by Australian Pathology Laboratories, <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1904423/>, Last accessed 08/09/2014.

Previous PageNext Page