Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is similar to fat. There are different types of cholesterol including:
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
tests measure the levels of cholesterol in the blood. They can measure the amount of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and your total cholesterol levels. A test called the lipid profile test may be used. This test measures the cholesterol levels plus triglycerides.
are a type of fat or lipid in the blood.
This test is done to measure the levels of cholesterol in the blood. Abnormal levels of cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of plaque formation in blood vessels. This plaque formation can lead to a
stroke. The results will be used to estimate your risk of heart disease.
Steps to take before the test depend on the test you are having. For example:
Fasting lipid profile—You will need to stop eating or drinking 9-12 hours before the test. Water is allowed during this time.
Total cholesterol test and total cholesterol test with HDL measurement—You do not need to fast.
Description of Test
You will be asked to sit. An area inside your elbow will be cleaned with an antiseptic wipe. A large band will be tied around your arm. The needle will then be inserted into a vein. A tube will collect the blood from the needle. The band on your arm will be removed. Once all the blood is collected, the needle will be removed. Some gauze will be placed over the site to help stop bleeding. You may also be given a bandage to place over the site. The process takes about 5-10 minutes.
After the blood sample is collected, you may need to stay seated for 10-15 minutes. If you are lightheaded, you may need to stay seated longer. When you feel better, you can leave.
In some cases, a bit of blood may ooze from the vein beneath the skin and cause a bruise. The risk of bruising can be minimized by placing firm pressure over the puncture site. A bruise will usually resolve in a day or two.
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Cholesterol. Lab Tests Online—American Association for Clinical Chemistry website. Available at:
https://labtestsonline.org/tests/cholesterol. Updated March 26, 2018. Accessed March 26, 2018.
High blood cholesterol. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
website. Available at:
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/high-blood-cholesterol. Accessed March 26, 2018.
How to get your cholesterol tested. American Heart Association website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated January 29, 2018. Accessed March 26, 2018.
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Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 5/1/2014