Cholesterol Tests

Because the effects of high cholesterol can go unnoticed, people should test their cholesterol at least once every five years. These tests are the only way to detect high cholesterol in the blood. If you use one of the home tests on the market today, be aware that many only measure total cholesterol.

Why Is Testing Cholesterol Important?

Blood cholesterol tests are the only way healthcare providers can know if you have high cholesterol. A person can have high cholesterol for many years without feeling its effects; most people with high cholesterol feel no different than those without it.
Recent guidelines indicate that a person should get a fasting test for cholesterol every five years. However, a person with risk factors for heart disease should have cholesterol tests performed more frequently.
There are several types of tests available. Each of these tests measures different components of cholesterol and fats in the blood, including:
Some tests for cholesterol, like a lipid profile done at the doctor's office, will look at all four components. Other tests, like most home cholesterol tests, only measure total cholesterol. Some tests also provide a cholesterol ratio or VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) as part of their results.

Lipoprotein Profile Cholesterol Tests

Lipoprotein profiles (also known as lipid profiles or lipid panels) are the tests that most healthcare providers recommend. These blood tests are performed after a 9- to 12-hour fast and measure:
  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL
  • HDL
  • Triglycerides.
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