Monday, August 21, 2017

Cholesterol Test and Lipid Profile

Table of Contents

How to prepare for the test

To get the most accurate results, you should not eat or drink anything for 9 - 12 hours before the test. You may drink water, but avoid other beverages, such as coffee, tea, or soda. For the purpose of screening, the total cholesterol is often done without fasting overnight.

Your health care provider may tell you to stop taking drugs that can affect the test. Never stop taking any medicine without first talking to your doctor.

How the test will feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed

A coronary risk profile may be done:

  • To screen adults and children for high blood cholesterol
  • To follow people who have had high cholesterol levels and are being treated

Screening for adults:

  • The first screening test is performed between ages 20 - 35 in men, and ages 20 - 45 in women (Note: Different national medical organizations recommend different starting ages.)
  • Follow-up screening should be done every 5 years.
  • Screening is done for anyone who develops diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or another illness caused by atherosclerosis.
  • Follow-up testing is done to determine how well diet and medications are controlling high cholesterol.

This test is often done to determine your risk for coronary artery disease. High blood cholesterol and triglycerides have been linked to heart attack and stroke.

The total cholesterol test may be done as part of a lipid profile, which also checks for LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.

The test may also be done for:

  • Arteriosclerosis of the extremities
  • Familial dysbetalipoproteinemia
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis

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Review Date: 06/23/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (