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How To Read Cholesterol Test Results

How Is A Cholesterol Test Performed

How to read your cholesterol test results – lipid profile

To check your cholesterol levels, your doctor will need to get a sample of your blood. You will probably have your blood drawn in the morning, sometimes after fasting since the night before.

A blood test is an outpatient procedure. It takes only a few minutes and is relatively painless. Its usually performed at a diagnostic lab. In some cases, it can also be performed during a regular doctor visit, at a local pharmacy, or even at home. Walk-in clinic rates can cost anywhere from $50 to $100. Cholesterol testing at a local pharmacy can cost $5 to $25. An at-home test can cost anywhere from $15 to $25, while tests that need to be shipped to a lab can average $75 to $200.

There are very few risks associated with having your blood drawn for a cholesterol test. You may feel slightly faint or have some soreness or pain at the site where your blood was drawn. Theres also a very slight risk of infection at the puncture site.

Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. Ideal results for most adults are:

  • LDL: 70 to 130 mg/dL
  • HDL: more than 40 to 60 mg/dL
  • total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL
  • triglycerides: 10 to 150 mg/dL

What Does A Cholesterol Test Measure

In addition to measuring the total cholesterol in your blood, the standard cholesterol test measures three specific kinds of fat:

  • Low-density lipoproteins . This is the “bad cholesterol,” the main cause of plaque build-up, which increases your risk for heart disease. In general, the lower the number, the better. But LDL cholesterol is only one part of a larger equation that measures a personĂ¢s overall risk of having a heart attack or stroke. For years, guidelines focused on specific target numbers for individuals to achieve to lower their risk. The most recent guidelines focus on a personĂ¢s overall risk and, based on that risk, recommend a certain percentage of LDL reduction as one part of a strategy for preventing serious heart and vascular problems.
  • High-density lipoproteins . This is the “good cholesterol.” It transports bad cholesterol from the blood to the liver, where it is excreted by the body. Your HDL is another part of the equation that identifies the risk of a cardiovascular event. In general, the higher the number the better, although, as with LDL, the emphasis has shifted from specific target numbers to strategies for reducing the overall risk.
  • Triglycerides. Another type of fat in the bloodstream, triglycerides are also linked to heart disease. They are stored in fat cells throughout the body.

Your Total Cholesterol Figure Divided By The Hdl

Whats healthy? The lower this figure, the better. Ideally 4.5, while above 6 is considered high risk.

What should I do? This reading will help your GP work out whether your overall cholesterol levels are healthy, which in turn helps them calculate your risk of CVD – another reason why its important to have full cholesterol results, not just TC. It could be high if your TC, LDL-C and non-HDL cholesterol levels are too high, or if your HDL-C is too low, or a combination of both. Maintaining a healthy TC:HDL ratio long-term can help reduce your risk of CVD in future. You can do this by following the advice above.

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What Affects My Cholesterol Levels

A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. These are some things you can do to lower your cholesterol levels:

  • Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level rise. Saturated fat is the main problem, but cholesterol in foods also matters. Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level. Foods that have high levels of saturated fats include some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
  • Weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. It also tends to increase your cholesterol. Losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. It also raises your HDL cholesterol level.
  • Physical Activity. Not being physically active is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol levels. It also helps you lose weight. You should try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days.
  • Smoking.Cigarette smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol. HDL helps to remove bad cholesterol from your arteries. So a lower HDL can contribute to a higher level of bad cholesterol.

Things outside of your control that can also affect cholesterol levels include:

Who Should Get One How Often

Cholesterol

Everyone should get their cholesterol checked regularly. How often depends on age and certain health risk factors.

An adult with average risk of heart disease should get their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years starting at age 20.

Some adults need to test their cholesterol more regularly. Those adults include the following individuals:

  • those with a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol
  • anyone with a previously high cholesterol test

recommend testing a childs cholesterol levels once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between the ages of 17 and 21.

Cholesterol testing is generally avoided during puberty because hormones can alter the results of the tests.

Most of the time, cholesterol tests require fasting, which means no food or drink other than water for up to 12 hours prior to the test.

Because of this requirement, most people choose to have their cholesterol test done in the morning.

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Cholesterol Numbers: A Good Cholesterol Ratio

What does it mean to have a good cholesterol ratio or good cholesterol numbers?

If you read a normal cholesterol level chart, you will find that there is a certain cholesterol range that you need to stick to in order to be considered healthy.

If your cholesterol numbers are too high and go above that range, the chance of heart problems ranges from mildly dangerous to somewhere equaling a nuclear bomb exploding inside your chest.

For this reason, the LDL HDL cholesterol chart is so important, as it will help you to determine exactly what your LDL cholesterol to cholesterol HDL ratio is.

It may be hard to understand all the cholesterol numbers on the chart, so here is a breakdown of what the good cholesterol ratio should be, as well as what it means to have a dangerous cholesterol range on your LDL HDL cholesterol chart:

Where Is The Cholesterol In Food From The Transformation Of Fats

But why does beef liver contain more than ten times the cholesterol that low fat milk contains?

Where is all this cholesterol in food coming from?

The thing that causes cholesterol to be present in your food is fat, the greasy, delicious thing that makes bacon, beef steak, and sausage so tempting and so terrible for your cholesterol levels.

Fat is harder for the body to process, and the body usually turns it into cholesterol to keep the bodys mechanisms greased. Just enough fat helps to oil the gears smoothly, but too much fat makes it impossible for the body to digest everything.

When the body cant digest all the unhealthy fats, it turns it into LDL cholesterol that causes the heart problems.

The unhealthy fats like trans fats and saturated fats go straight to your arteries, and you will create a lot of cholesterol by consuming these fats. Sugar can also cause cholesterol in food, as the sugar is converted by the body to fat before anything else is.

Those that eat lots of foods that are high in fat are guaranteed to be the ones that have the highest cholesterol levels, as those foods are being converted directly into cholesterol. The lipids in the fats combine with protein particles to produce lipoproteins , and thus they are turned into cholesterol by the body.

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Cholesterol Testing And Results

Cholesterol test results LDL test results VLDL test results HDL test results Coronary risk profile results Hyperlipidemia-results Lipid disorder test results Heart disease cholesterol results

Cholesterol is a soft, wax-like substance found in all parts of the body. Your body needs a little bit of cholesterol to work properly. But too much cholesterol can clog your arteries and lead to heart disease.

Cholesterol blood tests are done to help you and your health care provider better understand your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other problems caused by narrowed or blocked arteries.

The ideal values for all cholesterol results depend on whether you have heart disease, diabetes, or other risk factors. Your provider can tell you what your goal should be.

Cholesterol Tests

Some cholesterol is considered good and some is considered bad. Different blood tests can be done to measure each type of cholesterol.

Your provider may order only a total cholesterol level as the first test. It measures all types of cholesterol in your blood.

You may also have a lipid profile, which includes:

  • Total cholesterol
  • Low density lipoprotein
  • High density lipoprotein
  • Triglycerides
  • Very low density lipoprotein

Lipoproteins are made of fat and protein. They carry cholesterol, triglycerides, and other fats, called lipids, in the blood to various parts of the body.

When Should You Be Tested?

You should have a cholesterol test done at an earlier age if you have:

Total Cholesterol

When Should You Contact Your Healthcare Provider About Your Cholesterol Levels

How to Read a Cholesterol Test (LDL, HDL, IDL, VLDL)

In truth, your healthcare provider will probably talk to you about your numbers first. As always, contact your provider if you have any new or worsening pain or other uncomfortable feelings. Make sure you know what medications you take and what they are expected to do. Call the provider if you have a reaction to the medicine.

Before you go to the office, and after you have had a cholesterol test, it helps to have a list of questions prepared about your test results and any proposed treatment.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

When considering cholesterol numbers, its important to remember that you really have the ability to make those numbers go in your favor. What you choose to eat, how much you are able to move and how you deal with lifes ups and downs are things that you can influence.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/31/2020.

References

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How Often Do I Need To Get My Cholesterol Checked

The general recommendation is to get your cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. Some people may need to get their cholesterol checked more or less often depending on their risk of heart disease.

For example, high cholesterol can run in families. If someone in your family has high cholesterol or takes medicine to control cholesterol, you might need to get tested more often. Talk to your doctor about whats best for you.

Are Test Results Accurate

While no test is always accurate, measurements of blood cholesterol are an effective tool for estimating your risk of cardiovascular disease. Various factors can affect the accuracy of a cholesterol test:

  • Direct vs calculated testing: While calculated LDL cholesterol levels are sufficient in most cases, direct testing provides more accurate results in patients with elevated triglyceride levels. Patients who may have elevated triglyceride levels include those diagnosed with type II diabetes or obesity, patients with a history of considerable alcohol intake, and patients taking medication to increase triglycerides.
  • Fasting: In most cases, a lipid profile requires fasting. Eating within 8-12 hours before a lipid panel may increase the level of triglycerides in your bloodstream. Because this increased level of triglycerides could affect the accuracy of calculated LDL cholesterol values, your doctor may request that you refrain from eating prior to your blood draw.

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How Are Cholesterol Tests Results Used

Your doctor will make a treatment recommendation based on your level of heart disease risk. Guidelines do not use a single cholesterol level to determine treatment options.

  • If you already have coronary heart disease with symptoms such as chest pain or a previous heart attack, taking medication to reduce your low density lipoprotein cholesterol is very beneficial and possibly life-saving.
  • If you have been hospitalized due to heart attack or stroke, you will start treatment before you leave the hospital. The latest 2018 cholesterol guidelines recommend using a high-intensity statin , such as higher doses of rosuvastatin or atorvastatin to get cholesterol levels below 70 mg/dL. You will be encouraged to follow a heart-healthy diet, exercise, lose weight and stop smoking, if needed.
  • If you do not have a diagnosis of heart disease but your cholesterol levels are high, your doctor will look at your other risk factors, and may determine your 10-year risk of cardiac disease. Usually, lifestyle changes like a healthy diet and exercise are implemented for the first 6 to 12 months. Diet and exercise can drop cholesterol levels by roughly 10 percent.

What Is A Cholesterol Test Used For

Can someone help me interpret my VAP Cholesterol Test ...

A cholesterol test is a useful tool to assess the risk of heart disease including heart attack and stroke.

The test is used to measure and analyze the amount of fats in the blood. If there is too much cholesterol in the blood, treatment can be started to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

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The Importance Of Getting A Cholesterol Blood Test To See Your Cholesterol Numbers

Now that you know about cholesterol numbers, you need to realize that the cholesterol blood test is one of the most important tests you can run.

A cholesterol monitor will ensure that you can track your LDL and HDL cholesterol to keep them both in good balance, which will help keep you healthy.

Your heart needs to be taken care of if you want to live a long and happy life, and the cholesterol numbers you get from a cholesterol blood test will tell you everything you need to know about how to give your heart the attention it needs.

Without a cholesterol test, you will never be able to know if you have high cholesterol, so get tested to be sure you dont keel over from a heart attack or stroke.

What Would You Like to Read Now?

What Do Your Triglyceride Results Mean

Triglycerides are another type of blood fat and your triglyceride levels can tell you more about your health. If your triglycerides are high, it can mean youre at risk of heart disease, liver disease and diabetes.

You might have your triglycerides tested when you have a cholesterol test.

People with high triglyceride levels often have a low HDL level as well, which is an unhealthy combination.

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Understanding Cholesterol And Your Heart

Your heart actually has nothing to do with the production of cholesterol, but it is responsible for circulating the serum cholesterol through your body via your bloodstream.

When all goes well, your heart is happy to do its job with no complications, and you are one healthy and happy camper thanks to the cholesterol keeping your bodily functions working properly.

How Is The Total Cholesterol Or Blood Cholesterol Test Done

How To Read A Cholesterol Test – Using My Lipid Panels from March 2019

A blood test is a routine test. A phlebotomist is the person whose job it is to draw blood. Blood is usually drawn from the vein in your arm. You will sit down and the phlebotomist will wrap a rubber band around your upper arm so that the vein in your elbow sticks out. Then they will use a needle to puncture the vein and remove blood. The blood is sent to the lab to be examined.

Youve probably been at health fairs where testing is offered. In that case, the person performing the test takes a drop of blood from your finger. The finger stick test uses a small blade to poke a hole in the tip of your finger to get the blood.

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Can Test Results Be Wrong

In some cases, cholesterol test results can be wrong. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that one common method for calculating LDL cholesterol levels often produces inaccurate results.

Improper fasting, medications, human error, and a variety of other factors can cause your test to produce false-negative or false-positive results. Testing both your HDL and LDL levels typically produces more accurate results than checking your LDL alone.

High cholesterol can be treated with lifestyle changes and medication. Lowering high levels of LDL in your blood can help you avoid problems with your heart and blood vessels.

To help lower your cholesterol levels:

  • Quit smoking tobacco and limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid high-fat and high-sodium foods, while maintaining a well-balanced diet. Eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products, low-fat dairy products, and lean sources of protein.
  • Exercise regularly. Try to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, as well as two sessions of muscle strengthening activities.

Your doctor may put you on a therapeutic lifestyle changes or TLC diet. Under this meal plan, only 7 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. It also requires you to get less than 200 mg of cholesterol from your food each day.

Some foods help your digestive tract absorb less cholesterol. For example, your doctor may encourage you to eat more:

What Do My Test Results Mean

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.

Results are given in milligrams per deciliter . Here are the ranges for total cholesterol in adults:

  • Normal: Less than 200 mg/dL
  • Borderline high: 200 to 239 mg/dL
  • High: At or above 240 mg/dL

These are the adult ranges for LDL cholesterol:

  • Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL
  • Near optimal: 100 to 129 mg/dL
  • Borderline high: 130 to 159 mg/dL
  • High: 160 to 189 mg/dL
  • Very high: 190 mg/dL and higher

The above numbers are general guidelines, because actual goals depend on the number of risk factors you have for heart disease.

Your HDL cholesterol levels should be above 40 mg/dL. This type of fat is actually good for you because it lowers your risk of heart disease. The higher the number, the lower your risk. Sixty mg/dL or above is considered the level to protect you against heart disease.

High levels of triglycerides are linked with a higher heart disease risk. Here are the adult ranges:

  • Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
  • Borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL
  • High: 200 to 499 mg/dL
  • Very high: Above 500 mg/dL

Depending on your test results, your healthcare provider will decide whether you need lifestyle changes or medicines to lower your cholesterol.

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