What is a Cholesterol test/Lipid profile?

A lipid profile/cholesterol test is used to measure the amount of cholesterol in blood. Cholesterol is a waxy material that is present in all the cells of body. It is helpful in the production of various hormones, enzymes and other substances useful for digestion. Although our body produces the necessary amount of cholesterol, it can also be taken from some external sources like eggs, meat and dairy products.

Here is the complete detail about high cholesterol treatment.

Cholesterol test/lipid profile measures the amount of total cholesterol in blood along with the amount of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol, triglycerides and other fats in blood. It helps in assessing the risk of cardiovascular diseases or stroke, which can be caused by blocked or narrowed arteries due to the accumulation of cholesterol.

Different tests are available for different types of cholesterol, or a single total cholesterol test can be done for all types of cholesterol.

A lipid profile includes:       

  • Total cholesterol: Total cholesterol refers to the total amount of cholesterol present in blood including both LDL and HDL cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential for the normal functioning of body cells. It also helps in the formation of various essential substances, such as hormones and bile acids.
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): This lipoprotein is a carrier of cholesterol in blood and is also known as “bad cholesterol” as high levels of LDL increase plaque density in arteries.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL): This lipoprotein moves cholesterol from different parts of the body into the liver, from where it is removed from the body. It is also called good cholesterol for this reason.
  • Triglycerides: Triglycerides are the main components of fat cells, generated from excess calories consumed. Fats in body are mostly stored in the form of triglyceride.
  • Very low–density lipoprotein (VLDL): VLDL are responsible for carrying triglycerides in blood and is sometimes called bad cholesterol. High levels of VLDL lead to plaque build-up in arteries.

(Read More - Foods to reduce high cholesterol)

  1. Why is Cholesterol test/lipid profile performed?
  2. How do you prepare for Cholesterol test/Lipid profile?
  3. How is Cholesterol test/Lipid profile performed?
  4. Cholesterol test/Lipid profile results and normal range

Cholesterol test measures the level of cholesterol in blood. High cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart diseases.

All individuals above the age of 20 years should get their cholesterol levels checked once every 5 years or make it a part of their routine medical check-up. It is monitored on a frequent basis if the individual has:

(Read More - High Lipoprotein treatment)

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Fasting for 9-12 hours is required prior to this test; however, the individual can drink water if needed.

This test is typically done in the morning. The doctor should be informed of the intake of any medicines or herbal supplements.

(Read More - Homeopathic treatment for high cholesterol)

To perform this test, a blood sample is used to measure the levels of cholesterol in blood. The sample can be drawn from a vein of the arm using a syringe or by pricking a  finger with a lancet. A fingerprick test yields a drop of blood, which is then transferred to a piece of paper that contains some specific chemicals. Depending on the level of cholesterol in blood, the paper will change its colour. Some other small testing kits could also be used for this test.

(Read More - Ayurvedic treatment for High cholesterol)

According to the guidelines provided in 2002 by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Third Adult Treatment Panel (ATP III), the normal total cholesterol value should be 200 mg/dL or less.

In a routine setting, the results of total cholesterol test are categorised as follows:

  • Adults:
    • Desirable: A cholesterol level of ≤200 mg/dL is considered normal, and the risk of heart disease is minimal at these levels.
    • Borderline high:  A cholesterol level between 200-239 mg/dL indicates a moderate risk of heart disease.
    • High risk: A cholesterol level ≥240 mg/dL is considered high risk with an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Children and adolescents:
    • Normal cholesterol level: <170 mg/dL
    • Borderline high cholesterol level: 170-199 mg/dL
    • High cholesterol level: ≥200 mg/dL
  • For young adults:
    • Normal cholesterol level: <190 mg/dL
    • Borderline cholesterol level: 190-224 mg/dL
    • High cholesterol level: ≥225 mg/dL

Normal levels of lipoproteins tested as a part of cholesterol test are:

  • LDL levels <100 mg/dL are considered normal. High level of LDL is linked with heart diseases or stroke.
  • HDL levels >40-60 mg/dL are considered normal. High level of HDL decreases the risk of coronary artery disease.
  • VLDL levels from 2-30 mg/dL are considered normal. High level of VLDL causes narrowing of arteries.
  • Total cholesterol levels <200 mg/dL are considered normal. Higher levels increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Triglycerides <150 mg/dL are considered normal. A high level of triglycerides is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above-mentioned information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.

(Read More - Dyslipidemia treatment)


  1. Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Expert panel on integrated guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents: summary report.. Pediatrics. 2011 Dec;128 Suppl 5:S213-56. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-2107C. Epub 2011 Nov 14.
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Cholesterol
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Cholesterol testing and results
  4. Cox RA, García-Palmieri MR. Cholesterol, Triglycerides, and Associated Lipoproteins. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 31.
  5. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [internet]; Cholesterol
  6. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion [internet]: US Department of Health and Human Services; Get Your Cholesterol Checked
  7. Health direct [internet]: Department of Health: Australian government; Cholesterol and lipid tests

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