Cholesterol test What is it, and what is it for?
A cholesterol test is a laboratory method used to evaluate blood cholesterol levels. Several parameters are measured and compared with different ranges or average values in this analysis. Reading a cholesterol test can lead to confusion in evaluating what action to take.
When reading a cholesterol test, at least four indicators should be considered. HDL, LDL, VLDL, and total cholesterol. In addition, it is usually complemented with the results of triglycerides in the blood. While personalized evaluation by your GP is suggested, a cholesterol test can be interpreted according to the steps listed below.
How to read a cholesterol test?
This is good cholesterol. It is produced by the body and is essential for good hormonal function. It is recommended that your levels are above 40 mg/dl. There are different methods to increase good cholesterol; practicing physical exercise regularly is the most important.
This is terrible cholesterol. It is considered high when its values are above 130 mg / dL. An increase in bad cholesterol implies a deposit of fat on the walls of the blood vessels. To lower it, it is best to follow a diet low in simple carbohydrates and animal fats.
This type of cholesterol is also considered bad cholesterol since it is made up mainly of triglycerides. High VLDL values are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The maximum reference value is 40 mg / dL. Ideally, it should be below 30 mg / dL.
It is the sum of HDL, LDL, and VLDL cholesterol. A value of 200 mg / dL = (desirable level) is recommended. A higher total cholesterol result translates to a higher chance of heart attacks and strokes.
Triglycerides are not a type of cholesterol, but they are a type of fat that affects the health of the arteries. An average triglyceride level should be less than 150 mg / dL. Treatment may be needed when triglyceride levels are around 150-199 mg / dL or higher.
The use of non-HDL cholesterol has recently been suggested to assess the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Non-HDL is defined as the difference between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. Their values must be less than 130 mg / dL.
What to do before a cholesterol test?
The cholesterol test should be done with at least 8 hours of fasting. Alcohol and some medications can affect the values. Consult your doctor about possible interference of the medicines you are taking, and respect the hours of rest and fasting.
How often do you have to have a cholesterol test?
The number of times a cholesterol test needs to be done can vary depending on a person’s age, sex, and health. As general recommendations, it is suggested:
- Under 18 years: 1 analysis at 11 years and 16 years. (If there is a family history of high cholesterol, it is recommended to follow up after two years)
- Between 18-45 years: 1 analysis every five years
- Over 45 years: 1 study every two years. In men, it is recommended to increase the frequency from 45 in women to 55.