Cholesterol Test (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What does a cholesterol test measure?

Comment on this

Cholesterol tests are blood tests that measure the amount of cholesterol in the body. The health-care professional may order only a cholesterol test with results showing total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL levels; or the health-care professional also may order a lipid profile. In addition to cholesterol levels, the lipid profile test will also measure triglyceride levels, another fatty substance found in the blood.

How do I prepare for a cholesterol test?

For the best and most accurate results, it is important to fast for many hours before the cholesterol blood test is taken. Each laboratory has its own guidelines for not eating, and the fast may range from 9-16 hours. It is acceptable to drink water.

Do I need to call my doctor for my test results?

It usually takes a day or two from the time the blood is drawn until your health-care professional receives the results of the cholesterol test. Ideally, the health-care professional will contact you with those results and explain their significance. However, if you have not been contacted in a short period of time, it is reasonable to contact your health-care professional and ask for the test results.

There are home cholesterol test kits available that have been U.S. FDA approved, but their accuracy is not necessarily as good as that of a certified laboratory. These tests usually measure total cholesterol only, but some also can measure HDL, LDL and cholesterol. If you use one of the home kits, it is wise to discuss the results with your health-care professional.

The purpose of the cholesterol blood test is to determine whether treatment is needed for high cholesterol. That treatment may include dietary and lifestyle modifications, medications, or both to control cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/11/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Cholesterol - Diagnosis Question: Were you diagnosed with high cholesterol? How did your doctor direct you to lower it?