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High Cholesterol Screening/Lipid Panel Test

Lipids are substances in the blood that are related to cholesterol. They are a kind of fat found in certain foods and made by the liver. Three types of lipids used in measuring your total cholesterol level are:

LDL Cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, carries about 65% of the cholesterol in blood. Known as the “bad” cholesterol, LDL can build up in the walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Along with other substances, it can form plaque—a thick, hard deposit that can clog those arteries. When this happens, the condition is known as atherosclerosis.

HDL Cholesterol

High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, carries about 30% of the cholesterol in blood. HDL is known as "good” cholesterol because it carries LDL away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it's passed from the body. A high HDL level helps prevent heart disease, while a low HDL level increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.


Triglycerides are the most common type of fat. Like cholesterol, they circulate in blood but are stored in the body for extra energy. Triglyceride levels increase significantly after eating. A high triglyceride level combined with a low HDL or high LDL can speed up the process of plaque formation in the arteries.

Screening for High Cholesterol

  • Complete Lipid Panel Screening 
    • A simple finger-stick screening, this procedure measures three different kinds of lipids in your blood (HDL, LDL and triglycerides) as well as total cholesterol. Your lipid levels are important in determining your heart health. Watch this cholesterol screening video to learn more:

Who should have a complete lipid panel screening and how often should they have it?

  • In adults with no symptoms, cholesterol screening should take place every five years starting at age 20
  • Patients with heart disease or abnormal lipid levels should be screened every one to two years
  • Those on medication to lower cholesterol should be screened every six weeks until lipid goals are met, and every four to six months thereafter
  • *Recommended guidelines only. Consult with your physician.

    How do I prepare for a complete lipid panel screening?

    • You must fast (no food or drink, other than water) for 12 hours before your cholesterol screening.

    Warning signs

    • High cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect high cholesterol.

    Risk factors

    • Smoking
    • Obesity
    • Poor Diet
    • Lack of Exercise
    • High Blood Pressure
    • Diabetes
    • Family History of Heart Disease

    For more information download our High Cholesterol Fact Sheet

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