Lipid profile or lipid panel is a panel of blood tests that serves as an initial screening tool for abnormalities in lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
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). For the most accurate results, wait at least two months after a heart attack, surgery, infection, injury, or pregnancy to check cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a type of fat, found in your blood. It is produced by your body and also comes from the foods you eat (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).
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 a lower risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
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. A high LDL level is related to a higher risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
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.
Who should get a cholesterol test?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a person's first cholesterol screening should occur between the ages of 9 and 11 and then be repeated every five years after that.The NHLBI recommends that cholesterol screenings occur every 1 to 2 years for men ages 45 to 65 and for women ages 55 to 65. People over 65 should receive cholesterol tests annually.More frequent testing might be needed if your initial test results were abnormal or if you already have coronary artery disease, you're taking cholesterol-lowering medications or you're at higher risk of coronary artery disease because you:
- Have a family history of high cholesterol or heart attacks
- Are overweight
- Are physically inactive
- Have diabetes
- Eat an unhealthy diet
- Smoke cigarettes
People undergoing treatment for high cholesterol require regular cholesterol testing to monitor the effectiveness of their treatments.