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Importance of the Lipid Test to Keep Your Cholesterol Level Under Control

The Lipid Panel or Lipid Test is a blood test that measures your total cholesterol – that is the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and the triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood) present in your blood. Before understanding the importance of the Lipid Test, it is more important to understand what cholesterol is and why high levels of it is bad for you.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance, and at normal levels is essential for bodily functions such as contributing to the structure of cell walls, allowing the body to produce vitamin D, making up digestive bile acids in the intestine and enabling the body to make certain hormones. When the cholesterol levels shoot up, it can become a silent danger that puts you at a risk of many severe diseases including, heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

Cholesterol is carried in the blood attached to proteins called lipoproteins. There are two main forms,

  •  LDL (low-density lipoprotein): It is often known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol because too much of it can increase the risk of many fatal diseases such as atherosclerosis (blocking of arteries), which can lead to cardiovascular diseases.
  •  HDL (high-density cholesterol): It is known as the good cholesterol because it acts as a shield and removes harmful bad cholesterol.
What are the Causes of Cholesterol?

The main causes of high levels of cholesterol are:

  • Genetics: If high cholesterol persists in your family, then you might be at a greater risk than others.
  • Current Lifestyle: Lifestyles that entail junk food, alcohol, heavily processed meats and dairy on a daily basis, smoking and not being physically active could increase your cholesterol levels tremendously.
  • Diet: It is important to eat healthy food. Trans fat (packaged and fried foods) and saturated fat (cheese, butter, egg yolks, whole milk and meats) can cause high cholesterol.
  • Weight: If you are overweight, the chances of you having problems with high cholesterol are greater.
  • Medical History: If you have had a history of heart disease, high cholesterol levels, you should get yourself checked very often.
How is it tested?

As mentioned previously, it is a blood test that measures the total cholesterol in your body. A small sample of blood is taken from your arm and then analyzed in a laboratory. The HDL, LDL, and triglycerides are measured in the blood stream. Triglyceride levels and the amount of LDL are affected most by what you have recently eaten and thus, no food should be consumed 4-6 hours prior to getting a lipid panel test. However, if you are not fasting, the value of HDL and total cholesterol will be used.

Doctors’ guidelines state that men and women over the age of 20 should definitely get their cholesterol level checked. And it is indeed compulsory, especially if there is a history of cholesterol problem/heart disease. Getting the test done once a year should suffice, even if you’re healthy. Knowing your cholesterol levels can certainly help you lead a healthier and longer life.