How’s your cholesterol? Time to get it checked!
Keeping your cholesterol levels healthy is a great way to keep your heart healthy – and lower your chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke. Cholesterol can be tricky to understand, though, because not all is bad for you. Some is actually good for you. The most important thing you can do as a first step is to know your cholesterol numbers by getting your cholesterol tested. Here are some easy ways for you to understand what the testing involves, how it can help you and ways to improve your health by improving your cholesterol.
The American Heart Association endorses the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines for detection of high cholesterol: All adults age 20 or older should have a fasting lipoprotein profile — which measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides — once every five years. This test is done after a nine- to 12-hour fast without food, liquids or pills. It gives information about total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides (View an animation of cholesterol).
Your test report will show your cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). To determine how your cholesterol levels affect your risk of heart disease, your doctor will also take into account other risk factors such as age, family history, smoking and high blood pressure.
A complete fasting lipoprotein profile will show the following four results.
Learn How to Get Your Cholesterol Tested.
We recommend using the absolute numbers for total blood cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels. They're more useful to physicians than the cholesterol ratio in determining the appropriate treatment for patients.
This content was last reviewed on 12/10/2012.