Cholesterol is a wax-like soft substance, it is found in all parts of the body. To function properly your body needs a little bit of cholesterol but too much of it may clog the arteries and lead to heart diseases.
Why is cholesterol test done?
Cholesterol tests are done to help you and your health care provider to understand better about your risk for heart disease, stroke and other problems caused by narrowed or blocked arteries.
The ideal values for all cholesterol test results depend on whether you have heart disease, diabetes, or other risk factors.
Different blood tests are done to measure each type of cholesterol. Some cholesterol is considered bad and some are good. As a first test, your health care provider may only order for a total cholesterol test. It measures all types of cholesterol in the body.
You may also have a lipid (or coronary risk) profile, which includes
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol)
High-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol)
Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL cholesterol)
Triglycerides (another type of fat in your blood)
Lipoproteins are made of protein and fat. They carry triglycerides, cholesterol and other fats called lipids in the blood to different parts of the body.
When should you undergo a cholesterol test?
The first cholesterol screening test should be done by age 35 for men and age 45 for women. Some guidelines recommend starting screening at age 20.
If you have diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and a strong family history of heart diseases you should get the cholesterol test done at an earlier age.
When should follow up test be done?
If your results were normal, follow up test should be done should every 5 years. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or blood flow problems to the legs or feet it should be done more often. If you are taking medicines to control high cholesterol it should be done every year or as recommended by your doctor.
It is considered to be best if the total cholesterol is 180 to 200 mg/dL or less. If your cholesterol is in this range you may not need more tests.
LDL (Bad) Cholesterol
LDL Cholesterol is considered to be good if it is less than 100 mg/dL. Borderline is between 130-159 mg/dL and considered to be high if it more than 160 mg/dL.
HDL (Good) cholesterol
HDL Cholesterol is considered to be good if it is greater than 40 to 60 mg/dL and is considered to be low if it is less than 40 mg/dL.
VLDL (Bad) Cholesterol
Normal VLDL (Bad) Cholesterol levels are from 2 to 30 mg/dL.
Triglycerides are considered to be good if it is less than 149 mg/dL. Borderline is between 150-199 mg/dL and considered to be high if it is 200 mg/dL or higher.