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.
usually available within 24 hours.
What do your cholesterol numbers mean?
Your cholesterol levels can help your doctor find out your risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
But it's 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 what treatment is best for you.
If your LDL cholesterol is 190 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) 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.
What Affects the Test
Many conditions can affect cholesterol and triglyceride
levels. Your doctor will talk with you about any abnormal results
that may be related to your other health problems.
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
- Medicines, such as
corticosteroids, male sex hormones (androgens),
estrogen, birth control pills,
antibiotics, and niacin (vitamin B3).
- Physical stress, such as infection,
heart attack, surgery.
- Eating 9 to 12 hours before the test.
- Other conditions, such as
hypothyroidism, diabetes, or kidney or liver
- Alcohol or drug abuse or withdrawal.
- Liver disease (such as
hepatitis), malnutrition, or
- Pregnancy. Values are the highest during the third
trimester and usually return to the prepregnancy
levels after delivery of the baby.
What To Think About
- Chylomicrons are another type of lipoprotein that are measured in a different test. Chylomicrons are in the blood
and carry fat from your intestine to your liver. They carry triglycerides to your muscles for immediate use. Or they carry triglycerides to fat tissue for storage.
- Cholesterol screening is often available in supermarkets,
pharmacies, shopping malls, and other public places. Home cholesterol testing
kits also are available. The results of tests done outside a doctor's office or
lab may not be accurate. If you have cholesterol screening done outside your
doctor's office, talk with your doctor about the accuracy of the