Disease Prevention in Men - Cholesterol Tests

What type of cholesterol tests or procedures do you get, and how often?

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Hypercholesterolemia (Hyperlipidemia, Dyslipidemia)

Elevated LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries"). Atherosclerosis can begin to develop in adolescence and progress without any symptoms for many years and it leads to heart attack and stroke later in life.

Hyperlipidemia is a common and treatable cause of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of death in both men and women in developed countries. The goal is to diagnose and retard or reverse atherosclerosis while it is still in a silent early state before complications occur.

Tests or procedures for hypercholesterolemia

Blood lipid panel that includes:

  • total cholesterol,
  • LDL cholesterol, "bad" cholesterol,
  • HDL cholesterol, "good" cholesterol,
  • total/HDL cholesterol ratio, and
  • triglycerides.

Who to test and how often

  • All adults over 20 should have a lipid panel every 5 years if LDL cholesterol is less than 130, and every 1-3 years if LDL cholesterol is borderline (between 130 and 160). LDL is the part of the cholesterol panel that is most significant when determining treatment, as well as determining how often lipid panels should be checked. Tests may be carried out more frequently in those with risk factors for heart or vascular disease or when medically indicated.

Benefits of early detection

  • Elevated LDL cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries).
  • Atherosclerosis can begin to develop in adolescence and progress without any symptoms for many years. It leads to heart attack and stroke later in life.
  • There is good evidence that lowering elevated or borderline LDL cholesterol and increasing low HDL is beneficial in heart attack prevention and in some cases stroke prevention in subjects with or without known atherosclerosis.
  • Treatment of elevated or borderline cholesterol is multi-dimensional. Individuals should discuss potential treatments with their doctor, including nutritional planning (regarding total calorie, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol intake) as well as weight reduction and regular exercise.
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