Cholesterol is a type of fat molecule, and cholesterol testing analyses how much of it is present in the blood. Tests for cholesterol can help to determine heart health since excess cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular problems like heart disease and stroke.
What is a Cholesterol test?
A total cholesterol test, which is also included in a lipid panel or lipid profile, analyses the amount of cholesterol in your blood. Total cholesterol may include low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol. This test is done to screen for the risk of developing heart disease and to check the efficacy of the ongoing lipid-lowering treatment. The total cholesterol values reflect your risk for heart disease. In general, the higher the level, the higher the risk.
High cholesterol levels can be maintained by following a healthy lifestyle, losing weight, and staying active. If lifestyle changes are not enough, cholesterol-lowering medications can be advised.
What are the other names for the Cholesterol test?
The other names are Total Cholesterol, Serum Cholesterol, and Cholesterol Test.
What test parameters are included in the Cholesterol test?
There is only one parameter.
What does a Cholesterol test measure?
Cholesterol is a substance or a steroid that is very essential for life. This forms the membranes for cells in all organs and tissues in the body. It is used to make the hormones that are essential for development, growth, and reproduction. It forms bile acids, which are needed to absorb nutrients from food. The cholesterol test analyses total cholesterol that is carried in the blood by the lipoproteins.
A smaller amount of cholesterol circulates in the blood in the complex particles called lipoproteins. Each particle contains a combination of proteins, cholesterol, triglycerides, and phospholipid molecules, and the particles are classified by their density into high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). The HDL-C particles, sometimes called "good cholesterol," carry excess cholesterol away for disposal, and the LDL-C particles, or bad cholesterol, deposit cholesterol in tissues and organs.
This is why monitoring and maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol is very important for staying healthy. The body produces the cholesterol needed to work properly, but the source of some of that cholesterol is dietary. If an individual has an inherited predisposition for high cholesterol values or eats too many foods that are high in saturated fats and trans unsaturated fats (trans fats), then the level of cholesterol in that person’s blood might increase and have a negative impact on the person’s health. This extra cholesterol in the blood can be deposited in plaques on the walls of blood vessels. Plaques can narrow or eventually block the opening of blood vessels, leading to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and an increased risk of several health problems, including heart disease and stroke.
What’s the normal range of Cholesterol test?
Less than 200 mg/dL.
Who should get a Cholesterol test?
Cholesterol testing has different uses depending on the overall health situation and may be used for screening, monitoring, or diagnosis. In general, these tests are to measure cholesterol that typically begins as an adult, usually around 35 years old.
A health screening is a way to proactively look for potential problems before the symptoms become apparent. This test is often done to identify people who may have an above-average risk of cardiovascular problems.
In general, screening occurs less often in people who do not have any risk factors for cardiovascular problems. In low-risk patients, screening with a lipid profile test can begin in their 20s, 30s, or 40s and should be repeated about every five years or should be done with annual checkups. If the results are normal, screening can continue with only measurements of total cholesterol and HDL.
People who are at higher risk tend to start the screening at a younger age and have screening tests done more frequently. The main risk factors for cardiovascular disease include
Men over 45 years old and women over 50-55 years old.
High cholesterol on a previous test
Prior cardiovascular problems
Being overweight or obese
Lack of regular physical activity
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Having a relative who had heart disease at an early age (under 55 in men and under 65 in women)
Diabetes or prediabetes
Depending on your risk factors and ongoing test results, you may have to get cholesterol tests every year or less.
Children over the age of two usually start screening as soon as risk factors are identified. Children who don’t have risk factors often have cholesterol testing before and after puberty. This screening is more frequent in children who have an elevated risk of an inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolemia.
Are any preparations needed for the Cholesterol test?
No special preparation is required. Fasting is not required for this test.
What is the cost of a Cholesterol test?
What is the type of sample required?
This test requires a blood sample.
Who processes a Cholesterol test?
A healthcare provider, who is also called a phlebotomist, usually performs blood draws, including those for cholesterol tests, but any healthcare provider trained in drawing blood can perform this task. Usually, samples are sent to a lab where a medical laboratory scientist prepares the samples and performs the tests on analysers or manually.
What should I expect during my Cholesterol test?
You may expect to experience the following during the blood test or a blood draw:
You have to sit comfortably on the chair, and a healthcare provider will check your arms for an easily accessible vein. This is the inner part of the arm on the other side of your elbow.
Once the phlebotomist has located a vein, they will disinfect the area with an alcohol swab.
Then they will insert a needle into the vein to draw a blood sample. This can feel like a small pinch.
After the needle is inserted, the required amount of blood will be collected in a test tube.
When they have drawn enough blood for the test, they’ll remove the needle and hold a cotton ball or gauze on the pricked site to stop any bleeding.
They will apply a band-aid over the pricked site, and the blood collection is finished.
This process takes less than five minutes.
What should I expect after my Cholesterol test?
Once the phlebotomist has collected the blood sample, it will be sent to the laboratory for processing or testing. When the results are ready, your healthcare provider will share the results with you.
What are the risks of a Cholesterol test?
These blood tests are common, and they don’t carry any significant risks. You might have a slight pain like an ant bite when the needle gets inserted, and a small bruise can develop there.
When can I expect my Cholesterol test results?
These test reports are available via email or WhatsApp within 6 hours of the collection of the blood sample.
What do the results of a Cholesterol test mean?
Interpreting test results
Generally, healthy lipid levels help to maintain a healthy heart and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke. The healthcare practitioner will take into consideration total cholesterol results and the other components of a lipid panel as well as other risk factors to help determine the person's overall risk of heart disease, whether treatment is necessary, and, if so, whether the treatment will be most effective in helping to lower the person's risk.
However, the use of the updated guidelines remains controversial. Many of them still use the older guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) ATP III to evaluate the lipid values and the CVD risk.
For adults, in a routine setting where the testing is done to screen for risk, test results are grouped into three categories of risk:
Desirable: A cholesterol value below 200 mg/dL (5.18 mmol/L) is considered desirable and reflects a low risk of heart disease.
Borderline high: A cholesterol level of 200 to 239 mg/dL (5.18 to 6.18 mmol/L) is considered to reflect moderate risk. If the cholesterol test was done by yourself, the healthcare practitioner can decide to order a lipid profile to see if the high cholesterol is due to the amount of bad cholesterol (high LDL-C) or the good cholesterol (high HDL-C). Depending on the results of the lipid profile (and any other risk factors), a decision will be made about whether the treatment, including lifestyle changes, is necessary.
High-risk: A cholesterol level greater than or equal to 240 mg/dL (6.22 mmol/L) is considered high-risk. A health care provider might order a lipid profile (as well as other tests) to try to diagnose the causes of the high cholesterol. Once the cause is found, the appropriate treatment will be prescribed or recommended.
For children and adolescents:
A cholesterol value below 170 mg/dL (4.40 mmol/L) is acceptable.
A levels of 170-199 mg/dL (4.40–5.16 mmol/L) is borderline.
A total cholesterol level that is greater than or equal to 200 mg/dL (5.17 mmol/L) is considered high.
For young adults:
A cholesterol level below 190 mg/dL (4.92 mmol/L) is acceptable.
A result of 190-224 mg/dL (4.92-5.80 mmol/L) is borderline.
Total cholesterol levels are greater than or equal to 225 mg/dL (5.82 mmol/L) and are considered high.
In the treatment setting, the testing is used to see how much the cholesterol will decrease as a result of treatment. The target levels are usually based on LDL-C, according to ATP III.
What are normal Cholesterol test results?
Cholesterol levels are analysed in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). The reference ranges for total cholesterol are listed below.
Normal: under 200 mg/dL
Borderline high: 200-239 mg/dL
High: 240 mg/dL and above
What other tests might I have along with this test?
How do I book a cholesterol test at home?
Log on to www.orangehealth.in and submit your details. Our highly trained, professional, and vaccinated eMedics will be at your doorstep within 60 minutes or at the time booked by you.
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