Cholesterol and Triglycerides Tests
Cholesterol and triglyceride tests are blood tests that
measure the total amount of fatty substances (cholesterol and
triglycerides) in the blood.
travels through the blood attached to a
protein. This cholesterol-protein package is called a
lipoprotein. Lipoprotein analysis (lipoprotein profile or lipid profile)
measures blood levels of
HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
- Cholesterol. The body uses cholesterol to
help build cells and produce
hormones. Too much cholesterol in the blood can build
up inside arteries, forming what is known as
plaque. Large amounts of plaque increase your chances
of having a heart attack or stroke.
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein) helps remove fat from the body by binding with it in the bloodstream and
carrying it back to the liver for disposal. It is sometimes called "good"
cholesterol. A high level of HDL is linked with a lower risk of heart disease.
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein) carries mostly fat and only a small amount of protein from the liver to other
parts of the body. A certain level of LDL in your blood is normal and healthy because
LDL moves cholesterol to the parts of your body that
need it. But it is sometimes called "bad cholesterol" because a high level may increase your chances of developing heart disease.
- VLDL: (very low-density lipoprotein)
contains very little protein. The main purpose of VLDL is to
distribute the triglyceride produced by your liver. A high VLDL cholesterol
level can cause the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries and increases your
risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Triglycerides are a type of fat the body
uses to store energy and give energy to muscles. Only small amounts are found in the blood. Having a high
triglyceride level along with a high LDL cholesterol may increase your chances
of having heart disease more than having only a high LDL cholesterol
Why It Is Done
Cholesterol and triglyceride testing is
- As part of a routine physical exam to screen for a
- To check your response to medicines used to treat lipid
- To help find your risk of having heart and blood flow problems, including heart attack and stroke.
- If you have unusual symptoms, such as yellow fatty deposits in
the skin (xanthomas), which may be caused by a rare genetic disease that causes
very high cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol and triglyceride screening
Talk to your doctor about when you should get a cholesterol test.
Some health organizations recommend that everyone ages 20 to 79 be checked every 4 to 6 years for the risk of heart attack and stroke, which includes a cholesterol test.1 Other organizations recommend cholesterol tests based on age and risk factors for heart disease.2
For more information, see When to Have a Cholesterol Test.