Cholesterol Test

By: Carlie Davis

What is a Cholesterol Test?

A cholesterol test, also called a lipid panel or lipid profile, is a blood test that measures the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. These tests can help determine how much plaque buildup someone has developed in their arteries which can lead to narrowed or blocked arteries.

Why Get a Cholesterol Test?

There are normally no signs or symptoms for high cholesterol so regular tests help prevent heart disease.

  • Total Cholesterol: the sum of your blood's cholesterol content
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: the "good" cholesterol that helps carry away LDL cholesterol keeping the arteries open
  • Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL): the "bad" cholesterol which can cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries which can lead to a rupture or heart attack
  • Triglycerides: a type of fat in the blood. When a person eats, their body converts any calories it doesn't need and turns them into triglycerides, which is stored fat cells.

Any adult over the age of 20 should get a cholesterol test done once every 5 years

How to Prepare and What to Expect

  • Before the test, you are not allowed to eat or drink anything 9-12 hours before the test.
  • The nurse will clean your vein with antiseptic, insert the needle, and draw the blood.
  • If your tests come back positive for high cholesterol, it is normal for the doctor to run a few more tests before starting you on medication.