Cholesterol Advice

What is Lipid Profile Test?

A lipid profile test is a collection of tests carried out in order to assess the levels of different types of cholesterols (like triglycerides, LDL-Cholesterol and HDL-Cholesterol) in the blood stream. Its objective is to assess the risk of coronary heart disease that these different types of cholesterol pose to the patient under examination.

How is the test conducted?

To prepare a lipid profile a blood sample is collected from either a prick on the finger or from a vein in the arm. A 5 millilitre sample is collected and sent to a clinical laboratory for accurate and detailed analysis.

The Findings of the Test

A lipid profile of constituting elements is then prepared from the collected sample. The figures reveal the level of the following:

Total cholesterol
LDL-Cholesterol (a bad type of cholesterol)
HDL-Cholesterol (a good type of cholesterol)
Very Low Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol

A tabulated report about their levels in the blood is then prepared and compared with corresponding accepted levels (given below). This helps in assessing the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) and coronary heart disease.

Total Cholesterol
High: 240 mg/dL (6.22 mmol/L) or higher
Borderline high: 200-239 mg/dL (5.18 to 6.18 mmol/L)
Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL (5.18 mmol/L)

LDL Cholesterol
Very high: Greater than 190 mg/dL (4.90 mmol/L)
High: 160-189 mg/dL (4.15-4.90 mmol/L)
Borderline high: 130-159 mg/dL (3.37-4.12 mmol/L)
Near/above optimal: 100-129 mg/dL (2.59-3.34 mmol/L)
Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL (2.59 mmol/L)

HDL Cholesterol
Average risk: 40-50 mg/dL (1.0-1.3 mmol/L) for men and between 50-59 mg/dl (1.3-1.5 mmol/L) for women
Less than average risk: 60 mg/dL (1.55 mmol/L) or higher for both men and women
Low risk: Less than 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L) for men and less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) for women

Very high: Greater than 500 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L)
High: 200-499 mg/dL (2.3-5.6 mmol/L)
Borderline high: 150-199 mg/dL (1.7-2.2 mmol/L)
Desirable: Less than 150 mg/dL (1.70 mmol/L)

Based upon the results, and after taking note of a few other risk factors, a plan of treatment (diet, exercise or drugs, depending upon the severity of the case) and follow-up course of action is then prepared.

Factors to Take Note of Before the Test
There are some factors which may affect the results of a lipid profile test. Consumption of a fatty or cholesterol-rich diet might give an inaccurate assessment. In order to maintain the accuracy of the test results, fasting up to 12 hours before the test is advised.

When to Get Lipid Profiling Done?
Those who are healthy should get the lipid profiling done at least once every five years. They can even opt for a cholesterol screening test, as that would be sufficient.

If you consume fatty and cholesterol-rich meals and are suffering from risks factors such as diabetes, hypertension, premature heart disease, smoking and so on, you need to get a full lipid profiling done three to four times in a year. The result of the lipid profile would also determine the frequency of further tests.

Adolescents and children who are at low risk need not get it done unless a cholesterol screening test shows high levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Lipid profiling can also be undertaken to determine the success of any type of corrective measure (lifestyle changes and/or use of drugs such as statins) being taken to lower down the levels of cholesterol in the blood. Getting a lipid profile done every six months would be more than enough in such case.