Cholesterol Testing

The amount of cholesterol in the blood is measured when testing for high cholesterol. Because there are usually no symptoms, testing cholesterol levels is the only way to know if for sure if they are too high. It's best to have a test known as a "lipoprotein profile." This method is performed after fasting and measures total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.

Cholesterol Testing: An Overview

Cholesterol testing is the only way to find out if you have high cholesterol. You can have high cholesterol for many years without feeling its effects. In fact, most people with high cholesterol feel no different than those without it.
According to recent guidelines, a person should go for a fasting cholesterol test every five years. If you have any risk factors for heart disease, you should have testing for high cholesterol performed more frequently.
Several types of cholesterol tests are available. Each test measures different components of cholesterol and fats in the blood, including:
Some forms of cholesterol testing, like a lipid profile done at the doctor's office, will look at all four components. Other methods, such as most home cholesterol tests, only look at total cholesterol. Some tests also provide a cholesterol ratio or very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) as part of their results.

Testing Cholesterol: The Lipoprotein Profile

Most healthcare providers recommend a form of cholesterol testing known as a "lipoprotein profile" or "lipid profile" to determine your cholesterol levels. This type of cholesterol testing is performed after a 9- to 12-hour fast and measures:
  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL
  • HDL
  • Triglycerides.
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