American blood laboratories use a different version of the metric system than does most of the rest of the world, which uses
the Système International d'Unités (SI units).
The SI 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.
In some cases translation between the two systems is easy, but the difference between the two is most pronounced in the measurement of chemical concentration.
The American System: mg/dL
The American system generally uses mass per unit volume (milligrams per deciliter of blood). By considering the weight of a substance in the blood, it is less accurate.
The term "mg/dL" then is the abbreviation for milligrams (mg) per deciliter (dL) and describes how much lipid is present in a specific amount of blood.
Greek and Latin words form the prefixes for the units on most lab tests. A milligram is a thousandth (1/1000) of a gram (a gram is about the weight of a paper clip).
A deciliter is one tenth (1/10) of a liter (a liter being just over a quart) or about 1/4 of a pint.
The SI System: mmol/L
The SI system (Système International) - in Canada, Australia, Europe, and other countries - uses moles per unit volume (millimoles per liter of blood). By considering the number of molecules of a substance in the blood, it is more accurate then.
The term "mmol/L" is the abbreviation for millimoles (mmol) per liter/litre (L) and describes how much lipid is present in a specific amount of blood.
A millimole is 1/1,000 of a mole. A mole is an amount of a substance (in this case, triglyceride or cholesterol) that contains a certain number of molecules or atoms.
Since mass per mole varies with the molecular weight of the substance being analyzed, conversion between the American and SI units requires many different conversion factors.
multiply by (x) 0.01129
from mmol/L to mg/dL: multiply by (x) 88.6.
multiply by (x) 0.02586
mmol/L to mg/dL: multiply by (x) 38.7.
If you are a Canadian snowbird heading south who may feel shut out in the poolside medical exchange, this may help.
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 (in American units).
As a reminder, please note that in adults total cholesterol blood levels between 200 mg/dL and 239 mg/dL are considered borderline-high, according to the American Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel’s current policy.
The same conversion factor of 39 applies to HDL and LDL values.
Your triglyceride values, however, must be multiplied by 89.
Armed with these simple conversion factors you can impress your friends 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.
Triglyceride Conversion Calculator
Enter the Triglyceride level in the spaces provided below and then click the "Calculate" button to convert. Use the "tab" key to move from cell to cell for faster input.
Please treat the results with due care and consideration.
Glucose (GLU) Conversion:
For diabetics wishing to converse in American sugar lingo, the conversion is 18. For example, a blood sugar reading of 7.5 mmol/L multiplied by 18 yields 135 mg/dL.
Blood Sugar Converter
Please enter the Blood Sugar level in the space provided below, choose the Units ("From.. To...") and then click the "Convert". This conversion is for information purposes only.
- mg/dl or mg/dL: milligram per deciliter, the unit used in medicine to measure the concentration of substances in the blood. 1 mg/dL equals 0.01 grams per liter (g/L).
- mmol/l or mmol/L: millimole per liter, the SI unit in medicine for measuring concentrations of substances in the blood.