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The only way to determine if you have too much cholesterol in your blood is to get it tested. Most people should get their fasting cholesterol results every five years, but people with risk factors for heart disease should be tested more frequently. A lipoprotein profile measures total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. If you want to test your cholesterol, be aware that there are tests you can take at home, but they often only measure total cholesterol, which can be misleading.

An Introduction to Cholesterol Testing

The only way to find out if you have high cholesterol is to have a blood cholesterol test. 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 get a fasting test for cholesterol every five years. For a person with risk factors for heart disease, he or she should get tested more frequently.
There are several types of tests available. Each test measures different components of cholesterol and fats in the blood, including:
Some tests, like a lipid profile done at the doctor's office, will look at all four components. Other tests, like most home cholesterol tests, only look at total cholesterol. Some tests also provide a cholesterol ratio or VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) as part of their results.

Lipoprotein Profile

It is best to have a blood cholesterol test called a "lipoprotein profile" or "lipid profile" to find out your cholesterol levels. This test is done after a 9- to 12-hour fast and gives information about your:
  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL
  • HDL
  • Triglycerides.


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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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