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.
Who Is It Best For
Anyone with a heart valve problem, murmur, or history of heart attack. Lower percentages of blood pumped by the left ventricle may indicate dysfunction and increased risk of congestive heart failure.
A blood test measures levels of this abrasive amino acid, which irritates the lining of arteries, opening them up to infiltration by LDL and leading to plaque and blood clotting.
Facts You Should Know About Cholesterol Tests
- Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance in the body that is an important part of normal body function.
- Cholesterol has two main types: HDL, or good cholesterol, that protects against heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease; and LD, or bad, cholesterol, which increases the risk of these conditions.
- Cholesterol tests measure total cholesterol as well as HDL and LDL levels in the blood. Triglycerides, another type of fat present in the bloodstream, may also be measured.
- Cholesterol tests are usually ordered and blood drawn in a doctor’s office. There are also home test kits available. It is important to be fasting for the tests to be accurate. Typically, a fasting test is performed first thing in the morning before the individual has eaten anything for the day. Fasting typically requires 12 hours without food. Water, plain tea or coffee are permitted, and hydration is required. No other liquids are acceptable during the fasting period. Patients cannot add sugar, artificial sweeteners, cream, or milk to drinks.
- If you take OTC, prescription, or herbal supplements discuss these with your doctor prior to the test.
- Cholesterol test results should be discussed with the health-care professional to determine if treatment of high cholesterol is necessary to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.
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How Is An Hdl Cholesterol Test Different From A Lipid Panel
A lipid panel always includes a measurement of HDL cholesterol, but HDL cholesterol levels can be tested without doing a full lipid panel.
A standard lipid panel measures total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. It then uses those measurements to calculate the amount of LDL cholesterol.
How To Read Blood Test Results
It does matter if you are a marathon maven or a CrossFit champion, you should never overlook the importance of getting a regular checkup. While many people understand the importance of getting a regular checkup, they still have little information about how to read blood test results. By getting information about how to read these tests, you will get an idea about how well your organs are working. Keep reading to discover more.
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How It Is Done
The health professional taking a sample of your blood will:
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with alcohol.
- Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
- Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
- Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.
What Do Cholesterol Test Numbers Mean
If you have a lipoprotein profile, it’s important to look at all the numbers from the cholesterol test, not just the total cholesterol number. That’s because LDL and HDL levels are two primary indicators of potential heart disease. Use the information below to interpret your results . This will help you get a better idea about your risk for heart disease.
Total blood cholesterol level:
- High risk: 240 mg/dL and above
- Borderline high risk: 200-239 mg/dL
- Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL
- Borderline high risk: 150-199 mg/dL
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
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Do I Need To Take Medications For High Cholesterol
Simply looking at a chart to determine where your cholesterol levels falls cant fully answer if you need treatment for high cholesterol. Many other factors that must be considered.
Your doctor can explain your levels to you and make recommendations based not only on your cholesterol test results, but also other risk factors you may have such as:
- a history of coronary heart disease
- your lifestyle, such as diet and exercise habits
- if you smoke.
Your doctor may also calculate your 10-year risk for heart disease to determine your need for medication. Ask your physician if this number has been calculated and how to interpret the results.
What Are Cholesterol & Triglycerides
Cholesterol is waxy, fatty-like substance found in all cells of the human body. Cholesterol is necessary in order to maintain proper bodily function. In the human body, cholesterol is packages into lipoproteins which enable cholesterol to travel in the blood stream.
The main lipoproteins are LDL and HDL . LDL cholesterol sometimes is called bad cholesterol and high LDL levels can lead to plaque build-up in your arteries resulting in atherosclerosis. HDL cholesterol sometimes is called good cholesterol and carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver, which removes it from your body.
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What Are Blood Tests
Blood tests help doctors check for certain diseases and conditions. They also help check the function of your organs and show how well treatments are working.
Specifically, blood tests can help doctors:
- Evaluate how well organssuch as the kidneys, liver, thyroid, and heartare working
- Diagnose diseases and conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, , and
- Find out whether you have risk factors for heart disease
- Check whether medicines you’re taking are working
- Assess how well your blood is clotting
What Is A1c Testing
A1c test, also referred to as hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin provides information concerning average blood glucose levels during the past 3 months.
The A1C test is based on the attachment of glucose to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Since red blood cells typically live for about 3 months, the A1c value represent a 3 month average. The A1C test result is reported as a percentage. A higher value indicates a higher amount of glucose within the blood stream.
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The American Heart Association Recommends
All adults age 20 or older should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. If certain factors put you at high risk, or if you already have heart disease, your doctor may ask you to check it more often. Work with your doctor to determine your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke and create a plan to reduce your risk.
Can I Stay With My Child During A Lipid Panel
Parents usually can stay with their child during a blood test. Encourage your child to relax and stay still because tensing muscles can make it harder to draw blood. Your child might want to look away when the needle is inserted and the blood is collected. Help your child to relax by taking slow deep breaths or singing a favorite song.
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How Is A Total Cholesterol Test Different From A Direct Ldl Test
A total cholesterol test does not differentiate between good and bad cholesterol, but the bad LDL cholesterol plays an important role in determining cardiovascular disease risk.
In a standard lipid panel, LDL is calculated based on the levels of other fat molecules. However, in some cases, those calculations can be thrown off, especially if a person has high levels of triglycerides. A;direct LDL test;avoids the need for calculation by measuring LDL specifically.
Can You Check Cholesterol Without A Blood Test
During a cholesterol test procedure, a blood sample will have to be taken from a vein in your arm.
To do so, a tourniquet is tied around your arm just above the elbow. A needle is then inserted into a vein in your arm near the inside of your elbow. Once the needle is positioned, a small amount of blood is withdrawn and collected in a vial or a syringe.
After the blood is collected, the needle is removed from the vein, and the tourniquet is removed from your arm. A small cotton ball is pressed over the puncture site to stop any bleeding. A Band-Aid may be placed to protect clothing should a small amount of blood leak out of the puncture site.
How long does a cholesterol take?
Having blood tests drawn takes only a few minutes.
Does a cholesterol test hurt?
Blood tests cause a minimal amount of discomfort. Some people do have anxiety about having blood drawn and it may be worse than the pain of the procedure.
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Blood Tests To Assess Heart Disease Risk
A lipoprotein panel is a blood test that can help show whether you’re at risk for . This test looks at substances in your blood that carry cholesterol.
A lipoprotein panel gives information about your:
- Total cholesterol.
- LDL cholesterol. This is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockages in the arteries.
- HDL cholesterol. This type of cholesterol helps decrease blockages in the arteries.
- Triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood.
A lipoprotein panel measures the levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels may be signs of increased risk for CHD.
Most people will need to fast for 9 to 12 hours before a lipoprotein panel.
Whats The Good News About My Blood Test Results
Routine blood tests are generally done to look for problems, so if your CBC, blood chemistry, and cholesterol results fall within normal ranges, the doctors office may not reach out to you about your report. Or they may send you a copy with little or no explanation. But even if things appear normal, be sure to follow up and discuss your blood test with your doctor, nurse practitioner, or nurse, recommends the;National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . Ask if there have been changes since the last test of the same type, and what those changes mean.
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What Other Tests Might I Have Along With This Test
Your healthcare provider may also order other tests to look at how well your heart is working. These tests may include:
- Electrocardiogram, or ECG, which tests your heart’s electrical impulses to see if it is beating normally
- Stress test, in which you may have to exercise while being monitored by ECG
- Echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to make pictures of your heart
- Cardiac catheterization. For this test, a healthcare provider puts a tube into your blood vessels and injects dye. X-rays are then done to look for clogs in the arteries of the heart
Your provider may also order tests for high blood pressure or blood sugar, or glucose.
How Is An Hdl Cholesterol Test Different From A Low
An HDL cholesterol test and LDL cholesterol test measure different types of cholesterol. The two types of cholesterol are transported in the blood in distinct kinds of particles.
In common descriptions, HDL cholesterol is known as good cholesterol while LDL cholesterol is bad cholesterol. The amount of HDL cholesterol compared to LDL cholesterol can be an important consideration in cardiovascular health.
Measuring HDL cholesterol is more straightforward than measuring LDL cholesterol. For this reason, levels of LDL cholesterol are most often calculated using a formula based on levels of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. In some situations, though, a doctor may prescribe a direct LDL test.
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How Do I Prepare For The Test
You may need to not eat or drink anything but water for 12 to 14 hours before this test. In addition, be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don’t need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.
How Often Should I Get Routine Blood Work
Your doctor will typically recommend that you get routine blood work at least once a year, around the same time as your yearly physical.
But this is the bare minimum. There are several major reasons you may want to get blood tests more often than that:
- Youre experiencing unusual, persistent symptoms. These could include anything from fatigue to abnormal weight gain to new pain.
- You want to optimize your health. Knowing levels of various blood components, such as HDL and LDL cholesterol, can allow you to tweak your diet or fitness plan to minimize unhealthy habits . This can also maximize the nutrients you put in your body and more.
- You want to reduce your risk of disease or complications. Regular blood tests can catch the warning signs of almost any disease early. Many heart, lung, and kidney conditions can be diagnosed using blood tests.
Talk to your doctor first if you want to get certain tests more often than once a year.
Some other tests that you may want include:
- enzyme markers if youre at risk for cancer or other conditions like liver cirrhosis, stroke, or celiac disease
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Getting The Most From Your Blood Test Results
There are quite a few more tests available, but the ones included here are among the most common.;
To get accurate readings, be sure to follow your doctors instructions in preparing for tests. You may, for example, be asked not to eat and to drink only water for anywhere from a few hours to 12 hours beforehand.
Please follow these instructions, or your results may be skewed, requiring additional tests or even unnecessary medications.
If you dont understand something in your results, remember its okay to ask questions. Doctors are busy people, but you are entitled to the information. If your doctor cant provide it, ask the nurse or physicians assistant for help.
Knowing where you stand with these important parameters is essential for being proactive and owning your own health.We hope you find this guide handy and helpful the next time your doctor orders a blood panel.
Take good care.;
Disclaimer: Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
;Feb 23, 2021Originally Published: August 20, 2012
What Is A Lipid Panel
A lipid panel measures levels of different kinds of fats in the blood.;
- Total cholesterol, which is the amount of the different types of cholesterol added together. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that the body needs some of. But too much cholesterol can cause problems.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often called “good” cholesterol. HDL helps the body get rid of extra cholesterol.
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often called “bad” cholesterol. LDL that builds up in the bloodstream can clog blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.
- Triglycerides, which store energy until the body needs it. If the body holds on to too many triglycerides, blood vessels can get clogged and cause health problems.
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Can You Lower Triglycerides Naturally Without Drugs
Triglycerides can be lowered without drugs. For example, they can be lowered naturally through diet changes, decreasing consumption of alcohol or sugary beverages, by increasing physical activity, by losing weight, and other ways. As little as 5% to 10% reduction in body weight may lower triglycerides.
Cholesterol tests are blood tests that measure the amount of cholesterol in the body. The health care professional may order only a cholesterol test with results showing:
In addition to cholesterol level, the health-care professional also may order a lipid profile test. The lipid profile test will also measure triglyceride levels and another fatty substance found in the blood.
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:
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