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LIPID PROFILE
OVERVIEW:
Also known as: Lipid Panel; Coronary Risk Panel

Why Get Tested?
To assess your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD); to monitor treatment

When to Get Tested?
Screening

  • when no risk factors present: for adults, every four to six years;
  • for youths, once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between ages 17 and 21

Monitoring: at regular intervals when risk factors are present, when prior results showed high risk levels, and/or to monitor effectiveness of treatment

Sample Required?
A blood sample obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?

  • Typically, fasting for 9-12 hours (water only) before having your blood drawn is required.
  • For youths without risk factors, testing may be done without fasting.

THE TEST:
The lipid profile is used as part of a cardiac risk assessment to help determine an individual’s risk of heart disease and to help make decisions about what treatment may be best if there is borderline or high risk.
Lipids are a group of fats and fat-like substances that are important constituents of cells and sources of energy. Monitoring and maintaining healthy levels of these lipids is important in staying healthy.
A lipid profile typically includes:

Total Cholesterol (TC)
Cholesterol is a type of fat, found in your blood. It is produced by your body and also comes from the foods you eat (mainly animal products). Cholesterol is needed by your body to maintain the health of your cells. Too much cholesterol leads to coronary artery disease. Your blood cholesterol level is related to the foods you eat or to genetic conditions (passed down from other generations of family members).

Goal values:

  • 75-169 mg/dL for those age 20 and younger
  • 100-199 mg/dL for those over age 21

Preparation:
This test may be measured any time of the day without fasting. However, if the test is drawn as part of a total lipid profile, it requires a 12-hour fast (no food or drink, except water).

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) “Good cholesterol”
HDL is a lipoprotein (a combination of fat and protein) found in the blood. It is called “good” cholesterol because it removes excess cholesterol from the blood and takes it to the liver. A high HDL level is related to lower risk of heart and blood vessel disease.

Goal value:

  • Greater than 40 mg/dL

Preparation:
This test may be measured any time of the day without fasting. However, if the test is drawn as part of a total lipid profile, it requires a 12-hour fast (no food or drink, except water).

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) “Bad cholesterol”

  • LDL is a lipoprotein (a combination of fat and protein) found in the blood. It is called “bad” cholesterol because it picks up cholesterol from the blood and takes it to the cells. High levels are linked to an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease, including coronary artery disease, heart attack and death. Reducing LDL levels is a major treatment target for cholesterol-lowering medications.
  • Goal values:
  • Less than 70 mg/dL for those with heart or blood vessel disease and for other patients at very high risk of heart disease (those with metabolic syndrome)
  • Less than 100 mg/dL for high risk patients (e.g., some patients who have multiple heart disease risk factors)
  • Less than 130 mg/dL for individuals who are at low risk for coronary artery disease

Preparation:
Blood should be collected after a 12-hour fast (no food or drink, except water).

Triglycerides (TG)
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. The blood level of this type of fat is most affected by the foods you eat (such as sugar, fat or alcohol) but can also be high due to being overweight, having thyroid or liver disease and genetic conditions. High levels of triglycerides are related to a higher risk of heart and blood vessel disease
Elevated in obese or diabetic patients. Level increases from eating simple sugars or drinking alcohol. Associated with heart and blood vessel disease.

Goal value:

  • Less than 150 mg/dl

Preparation:
Blood should be collected after a 12-hour fast (no food or drink, except water).

Risk factors for abnormal lipid profile

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Being physically inactive—not getting enough exercise
  • Age (if you are a male 45 years or older or a female 50-55 years or older)
  • Hypertension(blood pressure of 140/90 or higher or taking high blood pressure medications)
  • Family history of premature heart disease (heart disease in a first degree male relative under age 55 or a first degree female relative under age 65)
  • Pre-existing heart disease or already having had a heart attack
  • Diabetesor prediabetes