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Lipid/Cholesterol Panel Popular

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About Our Lipid/Cholesterol Panel

Fasting Instructions:
Fasting is required for this lab test. You should not consume food or beverages other than water for at least 8 hours prior to visiting the lab. If you choose not to fast, it may affect your results.

What does this panel test for?

This test looks at overall cholesterol levels and triglycerides (the main components of natural fats and oils). Lipids are various forms of fat in the body and include cholesterol types. Lipids are a type of fat and fat-like substances found in cells and are used as a source of energy like glucose. Two notable lipids: cholesterol and triglycerides, are the main things tested in this panel. Monitoring and maintaining proper cholesterol levels is important to your health because the extra cholesterol may be deposited on the walls of blood vessels as plaque, which can narrow or even block blood vessels and lead to heart disease or stroke.

Specifically, you will see these measures in your results:

  • Total Cholesterol: The total amount of cholesterol in your blood.
  • LDL “Bad Cholesterol”: Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, this is known as bad cholesterol because it can lead to a hardening and clogging of your arteries.
  • HDL “Good cholesterol”: High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, this type of cholesterol helps to remove LDL from your blood.
  • Triglycerides: Unused calories are stored by the body as triglycerides in fat (lipid) cells.

Common Questions:

Why take a lipid/cholesterol panel?

Your body needs cholesterol to function properly, but improper levels can cause many issues like heart disease, atherosclerosis (clogged or hardened arteries), and stroke. This test may be used to monitor your current levels as part of a regular check-up, to check your progress in reducing your cholesterol count, or to asses your risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the future. You should ideally be checking your cholesterol every 4 to 6 years.

Testing will help make sure your HDL and LDL levels are in a healthy range. The results will help determine your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). If you’ve received high-risk levels previously, retaking the lipid panel can determine the progress of the treatment or damage.

The lipid panel cannot differentiate from one disease to another, but it does clearly alert your doctor that you may be at risk!

What do I do with the results?

The results will display how well your body is digesting food and how much fat was in its system. Depending on how high the levels are, you should take the results to your primary care physician so that the doctor can measure how high at risk you may be of a heart attack or stroke.

What are the normal ranges of my test results?

For total cholesterol:

  • 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or less is normal.
  • 201 to 240 mg/dL is borderline
  • More than 240 mg/dL is high

For HDL (“good cholesterol”), more is better.

  • 60 mg/dL or higher is good -- it protects against heart disease
  • 40-59 mg/dL is fine.
  • Less than 40 mg/dL is low, raising your chance of heart disease.

For LDL (“bad cholesterol”), the lower the better.

  • Less than 100 mg/dL is ideal
  • 100 to 129 mg/dL can be good, depending on your health
  • 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline high
  • 160 to 189 mg/dL is high
  • 190 mg/dL or more is very high

How can you improve your test results?

Reducing cholesterol in your diet can bring down LDL by up to 30%. When your diet is low in saturated fat, which is 7% of total calories or less, and no more than 200mg of cholesterol per day, this can also lower LDL cholesterol. Another aspect of your diet that can change is how much fiber and plant sterols you consume. These can be found in special kinds of margarine and other foods.

Making a habit out of aerobic exercise can work great to improve your results and overall health. Activities like swimming, running, hiking, and more can both lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol, HDL.

Lastly, if modifying your exercise level or diet do not help enough, there are medications a doctor can prescribe for you.

Who is most at risk of having high cholesterol?

Cholesterol testing should be especially important to you if your family has a history of high cholesterol or heart disease. Those who smoke tobacco, are overweight or obese, drink alcohol frequently, or do not exercise are at a higher risk of having heart disease than others.

How often should you take the lipid panel?

You should test regularly if you are monitoring high-risk levels, and/or to see how well treatment is going. If levels have not changed after treatment, then it is time to try another form of treatment.

If you have no risk factors present, adults should test every 4 to 6 years.

Medically Reviewed by: 2019-03-06

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