Assess Your Heart Risk with a Lipid Panel

A Lipid panel is a simple and inexpensive blood test that evaluates the risk for developing atherosclerosis (arterial plaque) and coronary heart disease. A Lipid panel test includes: Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol, Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio.

You don’t need a doctor’s order to get a Lipid panel. You can order the test yourself online through a service called Discounted Labs, and have the test performed at any Quest lab. Quest is a certified lab used by many doctors and clinics, but you can save money by ordering the test yourself.

Your test results with include an expected range of values, and will flag any items that are too high or two low. Here are the general guidelines for interpreting your results:

Total cholesterol: An estimate of all the cholesterol in the blood. Doctors recommend that you try to keep this number under 200 mg/dL. Levels over 200 mg/dL — depending on the breakdown of LDL versus HDL — may mean you are at higher risk for heart disease.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL): “Good” cholesterol that helps protect against heart disease.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): “Bad” cholesterol that is a major contributor to clogged arteries.

Triglycerides: a type of fat that has been linked to heart disease and diabetes.

 OptimalBorderlineRiskHigh Risk
Total Cholesterol< 200 mg/dL200-239 mg/dL240-279 mg/dL> 280 mg/dL
LDL (Bad) Cholesterol< 100 mg/dL100-129 mg/dL130-159 mg/dL> 160 mg/dL
HDL (Good) Cholesterol> 60 mg/dL40-59 mg/dL< 40 mg/dL
Triglycerides< 150 mg/dL150-199 mg/dL200-499 mg/dL> 500 mg/dL

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