Lipid Panel Test
Lipid Panel Test FAQ
What is a lipid panel test?
Why is a lipid profile blood test important?
What type of specimen will I submit?
Do I need to fast to take this test?
How long does it take to get test results?
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Lipid Profile Blood Test - More Information
Lipid Panel Test - Components
The lipid panel test, sometimes known as a lipid blood test, cholesterol panel or a lipid profile test, measures common lipid blood levels. The lipid lab test panel is an aggregation of several individual lab tests related to important fats and cholesterols in the blood. The lipid panel is often routinely ordered with a physical exam during annual blood testing. The standard lipid panel typically measures the total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides blood levels.
The total cholesterol level gives an overall snapshot of the cholesterol levels in the lipid panel. Cholesterol is important for fat, membrane and steroid synthesis. When chronically elevated, it can lead to plaque generation and has been correlated with cardiovascular disease. The total cholesterol level represents the amount of HDL, LDL and VLDL all added together. HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, cholesterol is sometimes thought of as the "good" cholesterol. HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, transports cholesterol around the body and elevated levels have been correlated with fewer cardiovascular diseases. As a transport molecule, HDL cholesterol takes fat out of the walls of blood vessels ("plaques") and reduces the risk that a plaque ruptures and causes a heart attack or a stroke. In this capacity, HDL might even reduce a person's cardiovascular risk. As the name suggests, HDL cholesterol is a dense molecule.
LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol is another less dense cholesterol transport molecule. Unlike HDL, LDL is thought to enable the accumulation of fat plaques in blood vessel walls. Fats delivered by LDL molecules have a higher risk of oxidation which increases the risk of an eventual plaque rupture. Elevated LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, levels can result in the formation or arterial plaques and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Triglyceride levels are increased with alcohol and carbohydrate intake and reduced with exercise, omega-3 acids and fish oil. VLDL, or very low density lipoprotein, is a cholesterol transporter in the blood. VLDL is calculated by taking the measured triglycerides level and dividing it by five.
Historically, lipid panel testing was performed on adults as they reached their late 30s and beyond. After all, along with the CBC test and CMP blood test, the lipid panel blood test has been a core part of medical lab testing for decades. In recent years, lipid screening has been recommended on earlier age groups due to worsening diets in children and the increasing incidence of cardiovascular disease in younger people. In fact, several organizations now recommend that children around the age of 10 get a lipid and cholesterol screening to check for any severe abnormalities or genetic conditions that might lead to lipid abnormalities that require active management.
Lipid Panel Test - Process & Results
Because the lipid profile blood test uses equipment that is standard in almost every laboratory, getting a lipid panel near you simply requires finding a convenient Quest Diagnostics lab location. An 8-12 hour overnight fast is recommended before getting this test done and, on the day of the test, a small sample of blood will be drawn for analysis. Some have questioned the necessity of routine fasting before the lipid test but it is still generally recommended. Once the blood is drawn, blood levels of the components of the lipid panel will be measured. As can be seen on the sample lipid profile lab results, the individual lipid levels will be reported as numerical values and the lab will provide a reference range for comparison.
Lipid Profile Test - Interpretation
Generally speaking, the lipid panel test is a useful screening test to look for abnormalities in the overall composition of lipid levels in the body. The Framingham Heart Study was one of the main studies responsible for bringing significant attention to the importance of the lipid blood profile and specific components within the lipid profile.
That's not to say that the lipid panel is a perfect test and, in recent years, more attention has been paid to how specific components of the lipid blood test are actually classified. In most standard lipid panels, the LDL blood level is calculated using the Friedewald formula rather than being measured directly for cost reasons. In contrast, newer, more advanced lipid panels like the Cardio IQ panel measure LDL levels directly and can shed additional insight on the morphology of LDL particles and the risk associated with specific lipid patterns. The lipid panel test is often ordered with the CRP test and the homocysteine test for a more detailed understanding of cardiovascular risk factors.
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