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Blood Test For Cholesterol And Triglycerides

What Are Normal Lipid Panel Results

Lowering Triglycerides – Mayo Clinic

The optimal level for each of the four standard tests in a lipid panel are as follows:

  • Total cholesterol: Below 200 mg/dL.
  • High-density lipoprotein cholesterol: Above 60 mg/dL.
  • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: Below 100 mg/dL .
  • Triglycerides: Below 150 mg/dL.

If your results are higher or lower than the target range, they may be classified as borderline-, intermediate-, or high-risk for cardiovascular issues. In general, higher-than-normal levels of total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides and lower-than-normal levels of HDL can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Its rare to have abnormally low levels of cholesterol. If you do, its usually due to a health condition thats causing malnutrition.

Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About My Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol can lead to heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. You can’t change some risk factors for high cholesterol, such as age and your genes. But there are actions you can take to lower your LDL levels and reduce your risk, including:

  • Eating a healthy diet. Reducing or avoiding foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol can help reduce the cholesterol levels in your blood.
  • Losing weight. Being overweight can increase your cholesterol and risk for heart disease.
  • Staying active. Regular exercise may help lower your LDL cholesterol levels and raise your HDL cholesterol levels. It may also help you lose weight.

Talk to your provider before making any major change in your diet or exercise routine.

What You Can Do

Many of the steps you should take to lower triglycerides are the same ones you should take to protect your heart and health overall.

If youre overweight, shed a few pounds. Get regular aerobic exercise . Limit the saturated fats in meat and dairy products. Watch your alcohol intake, even moderate drinking ramps up triglyceride levels. And diet? High-carb/low-fat eating will increase your triglycerides and lower your HDL.

If youre taking a statin to lower your LDL, one side benefit may be reduced triglyceride levels. Depending on the dose, statins can lower triglycerides by 20%40%.

The omega-3 fats in fish and capsules are another triglyceride-lowering option. For a very high triglyceride level, your doctor can prescribe a high-dose omega-3 medication.

Image: udra/Getty Images

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What Does A Cholesterol Test Measure

A complete cholesterol test measures the levels of lipids, or fats, in your blood. It primarily measures your:

  • High-density lipoprotein cholesterol.HDL cholesterol is referred to as good cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from your blood.
  • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.LDL cholesterol is referred to as bad cholesterol. Too much of it can cause cholesterol to build up on the walls of your arteries. This raises your risk of heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
  • Triglycerides. When you eat, your body breaks down fats in your food into smaller molecules called triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides in your blood increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Having obesity or unmanaged diabetes, drinking too much alcohol, and eating a high calorie diet can all contribute to high triglyceride levels.
  • Very low-density lipoprotein . Your blood also contains another type of cholesterol linked to an

In the United States, cholesterol and triglyceride levels are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood.

Why Do I Need The Triglyceride Level Test

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The triglyceride level test will help your doctor determine your risk of developing heart disease. It helps estimate the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood. It can show if you have inflammation in your pancreas and if youre at risk of developing atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when fat builds up inside your arteries. It can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

You should have a lipid profile done every five years as part of your regular medical exam. The lipid profile tests your levels of the following:

If youre receiving treatment for a high triglyceride level, your doctor will order this test more frequently to monitor the effectiveness of your treatment. If you have prediabetes or diabetes, its important to monitor your triglyceride level regularly because triglycerides will increase when you arent properly maintaining your blood sugar levels.

Children may also need this test if theyre at an increased risk of developing heart disease. This includes children who are overweight or who have a family history of heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Children at increased risk of developing heart disease will need this test between 2 and 10 years of age. Children under 2 are too young for testing.

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How Do I Prepare For The Triglyceride Test

You should fast for 9 to 14 hours before the test and drink only water during that period. Your doctor will specify how much time you should fast before the test. You should also avoid alcohol for 24 hours before the test.

Your doctor may tell you to stop taking certain medicines before the test. You should talk to your doctor about the medications youre taking.

Medications that can affect the test are numerous. They include:

What Are Desirable Cholesterol And Triglyceride Levels

Total cholesterol: Desirable blood levels for total cholesterol are below 200 mg/dL. Levels between 200 and 239 are considered borderline.” Levels above 240 are considered “high.”

LDL cholesterol: Optimal LDL levels are less than 100 mg/dL. Near-optimal levels are between 100 and 129. Levels between 130 and 159 are considered “borderline ” levels between 160 and 189 are considered “high ” and levels of 190 and above are considered “very high.”

HDL cholesterol: In general, the higher the HDL cholesterol levels the better. HDL levels below 41 mg/dL are considered too low.

Triglycerides: Desirable blood levels for triglycerides are less than 150 mg_Dl. Levels between 150 and 199 are considered “borderline high.” Levels between 200 and 499 are considered “high.” Triglyceride levels at 500 mg_Dl or greater are considered “very high.”

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Why Is Tg/hdl Important

TG/HDL is important because it is an important predictor of risk for heart disease. It is also a marker of insulin resistance, and insulin resistance is the major cause of prediabetes, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

The Womens Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation study studied 544 women referred for CV disease evaluation . The TG/HDL ranged from 0.3 to 18.4. It was a powerful predictor of all mortality and cardiovascular events.

This chart shows the WISE study range of TG/HDL. Individuals with lower TG/HDL had lower CV disease risk.

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How Can You Lower Triglyceride Levels

LDL, HDL, Triglyceride – Cholesterol Tests Explained

If you are diagnosed with high blood triglycerides, your doctor may first recommend that you adopt heart-healthy lifestyle changes. These may include:

  • Choosing heart-healthy foods and limiting alcohol, added sugars, and foods high in saturated fat
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Aiming for a healthy weight
  • Getting enough good quality sleep
  • Managing stress

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Should I Be Concerned If I Have Abnormal Lipid Panel Results

If your lipid results reveal that you have high levels of total cholesterol, LDL and/or triglycerides and/or low levels of HDL, it doesnt necessarily mean that you have a medical condition or need treatment.

A healthy cholesterol range for you may depend on many factors. Your healthcare provider will take into consideration the following factors when interpreting your lipid panel results:

  • Your current medications.
  • Other risk factors you may have for cardiovascular disease.

Many providers use a special risk calculator using these factors to determine if you need further tests or treatment. If you have questions about your results, dont be afraid to talk to your provider.

How Are Fats And Cholesterol Connected In Cats

Fats, including cholesterol, are carried in the blood in complex compounds that also contain protein: so-called lipoproteins.

These include triglycerides, cholesterol and phospholipid linked to apopproteins, which are manufactured in cells of the liver and intestines. Apolipoproteins are synthesized in the liver or in intestinal cells.

There are four major lipoprotein classes in cats, as follows:

Chylomicrons and Very low density lipoproteins carry triglycerides in the blood

Low density lipoproteins and High density lipoproteins carry cholesterol in the blood. In cats, HDL outnumbers LDL by 5:1, while in humans, LDL is the main carrier of cholesterol.

Many humans are aware of these abbreviations from their own blood test results, but its important to remember that the significance of abnormal levels is very different in humans compared to cats.

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How Often Should Cholesterol Be Checked

The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years as long as their risk remains low. After age 40, your health care professional will also want to use an equation to calculate your 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke. You can also check your risk yourself using the Check. Change. Control. Calculator.

People with cardiovascular disease, and those at elevated risk, may need their cholesterol and other risk factors assessed more often.

Your doctor will explain what your cholesterol levels mean and can discuss treatment options if your numbers are not where they should be.

New Guidelines Simplify Cholesterol Tests: No Fasting Needed

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Im supposed to have my cholesterol checked soon. Its a simple test, but Im not looking forward to it since it requires fasting overnight. And that means making a special early-morning trip to my doctors office.

But new international guidelines say its OK even preferred to skip the overnight fast.

To learn more about this small but oh-so-useful shift, I talked with cardiologist Dr. Samia Mora. She helped write the new guidelines, which were published this week in the European Heart Journal and summarized in JAMA Internal Medicine. Mora is director of the Center for Lipid Metabolomics at Brigham and Womens Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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Why Would I Need This Test

You might need this test if your doctor wants to assess your risk of developing heart disease. It is usually recommended every 5 years for people who are over 45 . If you have other risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure or diabetes, you will need the lipid test more regularly.

Why Do I Need A Lipid Panel Blood Test

There are several reasons why you may need a lipid panel blood test. Healthcare providers use lipid panels often for screen and monitoring purposes.

If you have one or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your provider may suggest frequent screening through the use of a lipid panel to try to catch elevated cholesterol levels before you have symptoms. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:

  • Being over age 45 if youre a man or you were assigned male at birth and over 50 if youre a women or you were assigned female at birth.
  • Having a high cholesterol result on a previous test.
  • Having diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Having a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, who developed heart disease at an early age .

Children can also have high cholesterol, so your child may need a lipid panel blood test. Cholesterol levels in children are linked to three factors: heredity, diet and obesity. In most cases, kids with high cholesterol have a parent who also has elevated cholesterol.

While providers mostly use lipid panels for screening or monitoring cholesterol levels, providers sometimes use them as part of the diagnostic process for certain health conditions that can affect your lipid levels, including:

If youre experiencing symptoms of any of these conditions, your provider may have you undergo a lipid panel blood test.

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When To Get Tested

Screening: as part of a lipid profile during a regular medical exam at least once every four to six years for adults for children, at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between the ages of 17 and 21

Monitoring: may be done more frequently if you have risk factors for heart disease and/or if you are being treated for unhealthy lipid levels

What Is A Blood Lipids Test

Triglycerides, what are they? Cholesterol test explained.

A complete cholesterol test, also known as a lipid profile, is a blood test that can measure the amount of triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood. It can help you determine your risk of developing plaques in your arteries that can lead to the narrowing of the arteries. This is known as atherosclerosis and it is the cause of heart disease. High cholesterol levels are a significant risk factor for coronary artery disease.

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What Happens During A Cholesterol Test

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

You may be able to use an at-home kit to check your cholesterol levels. Your kit will include a device to prick your finger to collect a drop of blood for testing. Be sure to follow the kit instructions carefully. Also, be sure to tell your provider if your at-home test shows that your total cholesterol level is higher than 200 mg/dl.

How Can I Control My Triglyceride Levels

Studies show that carbohydrates play an important role in controlling triglyceride level. Diets high in carbohydrates, especially sugar, can increase triglycerides.

Exercise can also lower triglycerides and increase HDL cholesterol. Even if you dont lose weight, exercise can help control your triglyceride level.

The Mayo Clinic recommends changes in lifestyle habits to help treat high triglyceride levels. The changes include:

  • not eating sugary or refined foods
  • choosing healthier fats, such as fats in plant-based foods or fish
  • reducing your alcohol consumption
  • getting enough exercise, which is at least 30 minutes at moderate intensity on most days of the week

Treatments that focus on the primary cause for high triglycerides, such as the following, should be strongly considered:

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How To Keep Heart

Healthy lifestyle changes are clearly helpful in managing heart disease risk, but the doctors in our Facebook Live event all noted that its a lifelong process. A lot of this seems a bit daunting, notes Ader, but once you get into it, you realize youre exercising and eating right for a reason. It becomes a part of your life, and you feel better for doing it.

Canto emphasizes that with the right treatment and management, people with heart disease can live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. You can have a heart attack in your 30s and have multiple heart attacks in the course of your lifetime, have bypass surgery, have multiple stents, have your heart shocked, have a defibrillator, and then maybe later on a heart transplant, and lead a normal life with heart disease, says Canto.

And, adds Nandi, you have the power to be your own health hero. The most important point is that your health is in your hands, says Nandi. Youre not helpless.

*Canto is a consultant on the speakers bureaus for Amarin and other pharmaceutical companies.

Your Cholesterol Is One Part Of Your Risk

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Your cholesterol levels can help your doctor find out your risk for having a heart attack or stroke.

But itâs not just about your cholesterol. Your doctor uses your cholesterol levels plus other things to calculate your risk. These include:

  • Your blood pressure.
  • Whether or not you have diabetes.
  • Your age, sex, and race.
  • Whether or not you smoke.

You and your doctor can talk about whether you need to lower your risk and, if so, what treatment is best for you.

Ideal cholesterol and triglyceride numbers for adults

Total cholesterol

40 mg/dL or higher

LDL cholesterol

Less than 100 mg/dL


Less than 150 mg/dL

If your LDL cholesterol is 190 milligrams per deciliter or more, it might mean that you have a familial lipid disorder.

For children and teens, test results are slightly different than for adults. For more information, see Cholesterol in Children and Teens.

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Diet And Lifestyle Changes

A doctor will look at your overall risk of cardiovascular disease and make recommendations to reduce high blood cholesterol as well as managing other risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and being overweight.

Reducing high blood cholesterol levels typically involves decreasing the total cholesterol level by decreasing LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, while maintaining or increasing HDL-cholesterol levels.

  • LDL-cholesterol levels are best decreased by eating less saturated fat
  • Triglyceride levels are best reduced by eating less sugar-containing foods, limiting alcohol intake, and reducing the intake of total fat
  • HDL-cholesterol levels are best increased by exercise, substituting saturated fats with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat , and maintaining a healthy weight.

Heart-healthy dietary changes are summarised in our Heart disease diet page.

Other lifestyle changes should include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Limiting alcohol intake

Heart-healthy exercise suggestions are summarised in our Heart disease exercise page.


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