Cholesterol, Blood Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like protein that is essential for life. It forms the membranes for cells in all organs and tissues in your body. It is used to make hormones that are needed for growth and reproduction. It forms bile acids that are needed to absorb nutrients from food. A small amount of your body's cholesterol circulates in the blood in particles called lipoproteins. The liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. Any extra cholesterol comes from food that you eat. Extra cholesterol may be deposited in the walls of your blood vessels.

This test is different from most tests in that it is not used to diagnose a disease but is used to estimate risk of developing heart disease. Because high blood cholesterol has been associated with hardening of the arteries, heart disease and heart attacks, cholesterol testing is considered a routine part of preventive health care.

PREPARATION FOR TEST

A blood sample is collected from a vein in your arm. You should not have anything to eat or drink for twelve (12) hours before your blood is drawn.

It is not necessary to fast when you do a home cholesterol test as this test only measures your total cholesterol.

WHAT THE RESULTS MEAN:

  • Total cholesterol is a rough measure of all the cholesterol in your blood.

  • LDL is the so-called bad cholesterol. This is the type that deposits cholesterol in the walls of the arteries. You want this level to be low.

  • HDL is the good cholesterol because it cleans the arteries and carries the LDL away. You want this level to be high.

  • Triglycerides are fat that the body can either burn for energy or store. High levels are closely linked to heart disease.

DESIRED LEVELS:

  • Total cholesterol below 200.

  • LDL below 100 for people at risk, below 70 for very high risk.

  • HDL above 50 is good, above 60 is best.

  • Triglycerides below 150.

Ranges for normal findings may vary among different laboratories and hospitals. You should always check with your doctor after having lab work or other tests done to discuss the meaning of your test results and whether your values are considered within normal limits.

MEANING OF TEST

Your caregiver will go over the test results with you and discuss the importance and meaning of your results, as well as treatment options and the need for additional tests if necessary.

OBTAINING THE TEST RESULTS

It is your responsibility to obtain your test results. Ask the lab or department performing the test when and how you will get your results.