What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatlike substance that is naturally present in cell walls or membranes everywhere in the body. Your body uses cholesterol to produce many hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids that help to digest fat. If you have too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, the excess may be deposited in the arteries of the heart, which could lead to heart disease. What is a cholesterol test? A cholesterol test is a simple blood test that checks the cholesterol levels in your blood. This test is also called a fasting lipoprotein profile. A fasting lipoprotein profile measures:
Total cholesterol (the total amount of cholesterol in your blood) HDL (“good”) cholesterol (helps keep cholesterol from building up in your arteries) LDL (“bad”) cholesterol (main cause of buildup and blockage in your arteries) Triglycerides (another form of fat that may also lead to blockage in your arteries)
Cholesterol tests preparation With the fasting lipoprotein profile, you will be instructed to not eat or drink (except for water) for 14 hours before the test, and to abstain from alcohol for 48 hours
Total cholesterol will fall into 1 of 3 categories: desirable (less than 200 mg/dL), borderline high risk (200-239 mg/dL), or high risk (240 mg/dL and above).
HDL cholesterol will fall into 1 of 3 categories: 60 mg/dL and above, which is thought to protect you against heart disease; 40-59 mg/dL, which is better; or 40 mg/dL and less, which is considered to be a major risk factor for heart disease.
LDL cholesterol will fall into 1 of 5 categories: optimal (less than 100 mg/dL), near optimal/above optimal (100-129 mg/dL), borderline high (130-159 mg/dL), high (160-189 mg/dL), or very high (190mg/dl and above) Triglycerides will fall into 1 of 4 categories: normal (less than 150 mg/dL), borderline high (150-199 mg/dL), high (200-499 mg/dL), or very high (500 mg/dL and above).