What is the lipid profile test?
The lipid profile test is also widely known as a lipoprotein test and cholesterol test. A lipid profile or lipid panel test’s aid is to evaluate the amount of certain specific fat molecules in your blood. A lipid test measures the amount of different cholesterol and triglycerides. As a panel test, a lipid profile blood test measure certain fat molecules such as:
- Total cholesterol
- low - density lipoprotein cholesterol test
- High - density lipoprotein cholesterol test
All these fat molecules are called lipids. The lipids function is to transport energy and fat-soluble nutrients to your cells. However, excessive amounts of lipids in your blood vessels or arteries can be very harmful for your health. The buildup of these fats can cause serious cardiovascular diseases. That is why it is important to take a cholesterol test to detect any cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and stroke at an early stage.
What is the purpose of a lipid profile test?
Healthcare providers use lipid tests to detect any cardiovascular and other diseases by anatomizing the quantity of cholesterol in the blood. The general uses of a lipid profile are:
- Used as a routine test to identify if the cholesterol level is in the normal or high risk category.
- If you have had an abnormal result on a previous heart disease test, this test will help to monitor your cholesterol level.
- Lipid testing will help in monitoring your response to cholesterol medications, and lifestyle changes.
- Lipid testing will also help to monitor liver disease as well.
When do you need a lipid profile test?
Generally, healthcare experts use lipid profile tests for diagnosing, screening, and monitoring purposes. However, your doctor may recommend this test for several reasons.
If you are at a high risk of getting cardiovascular disease, your doctor may suggest taking this test often to detect increased cholesterol level before you have symptoms. People, who are at high risk of getting cardiovascular diseases are:
- If you're a man age over 45, and If you are a woman age over 50
- If your parent por sibling have had developed cardiovascular disease at an early stage
- Have had high cholesterol level on previous tests
- Have cardiovascular disease
- Have high blood pressure
- Have diabetes or prediabetes
- Having obesity
- Smoking tobacco
- Not having proper physical activity
- Not having a healthy eating style
If you are in any of these risk factors, then you might need a lipid test once in every year. Also, some health experts recommend taking this test annually, if you are above age 65.
Children may also have high cholesterol levels, and require lipid testing before their puberty. High cholesterol level in children can be caused by three factors including hereditary, obesity, and diet. Studies have shown that in some cases children with high cholesterol levels, have parents who also have high cholesterol levels.
As mentioned earlier, lipid profile is generally used for monitoring or screening cholesterol level. However, some doctors use lipid profile tests as part of diagnosing other severe health conditions such as:
- Chronic kidney disease
If you are having any symptoms of this health disease, you should consult with a doctor as soon as possible.
How much does the lipid profile test cost?
Typically, a lipid profile test cost is very minor. Also, the lipid profile test price is very low, if you are willing to take this test at walk-in clinics.
How is a lipid profile test performed?
A health expert called a phlebotomist will draw a sample of blood from a vein of your arm, and then send the sample to the lab. In the laboratory, the scientists will examine the blood sample on the analyzer.
What preparation do you need for the test?
You may be required to fast for at least 10 to 12 hours before taking a lipid profile test. This fasting includes not drinking and eating except water. Lipid profile test is also practicable without fasting.
Some healthcare professionals also suggest normal drinking and eating before taking lipid profile tests. Your doctor may give you a few certain instructions. Always follow your doctor’s instructions only.
What you may expect during a lipid profile test?
- You will need to sit relaxed in a chair first. Then the phlebotomist will clean your inner elbow area with a piece of cotton.
- Then the phlebotomist will insert a small needle into your vein to collect the sample of blood. This time you may feel the sensation of pinching.
- Then they will collect the blood in a small test tube.
- After removing the needle, they will give a cotton ball in that particular area to stop the bleeding.
This entire blood drawing process will take a maximum five minutes.
What you may expect after the lipid profile test?
After collecting the blood sample, the phlebotomist will send them to the laboratory. Then your blood sample will be analyzed. When your test result will be back, your doctor will share the result with you.
Is there any risk of the lipid profile test?
Blood tests are very usual in diagnosing and screening of any health conditions. There is a minor risk of taking a blood test. You may only get slight bruising on the sight, where the blood has drawn. However, this bruising or pain will be gone 2 or 3 days after the blood test.
When should you expect your test results?
The delivery date of the test results will depend on the laboratory itself. Usually, the test results will be delivered after 2 or 3 business days. However, it may also take longer than usual.
Is the lipid profile test result accurate?
No blood test results will give you the assurance of accurate results. However, a lipid profile test result is classified as reliable. The chances of getting a false or false-positive result is very infrequent, if all the procedure steps including test preparations and blood drawing process have been done carefully.
Do you need follow-up tests?
If you have a high risk of cardiovascular disease or have abnormal lipid test results, your doctor may conduct more testings at regular intervals. You also need to take follow-up tests if you have undergone at - home tests, which show abnormal cholesterol levels. If you have normal or satisfied results, you may not be required to test yourself for about 5 years, unless your overall health condition changes.
Result interpretation of lipid profile test
The measurements of all the components will come as mg/dL. As the lipid panel tests four fat molecules, the normal range of each molecule are:
- Total cholesterol: lower than 200 mg/dL
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol: higher than 60 mg/dL
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: Lower than 100 mg/dL (lower than 70 mg/dL, for diabetes patients)
- Triglycerides: Lower than 150 mg/dL
If your test results are higher or lower than normal, then it will be considered as borderline, intermediate, high risk of cardiovascular disease. Generally, higher than normal range of cholesterol, low-density cholesterol level, triglycerides, and lower than the normal range of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level can increase your chances of getting cardiovascular disease. However, abnormal or low cholesterol levels are unusual, and can be caused by malnutrition.