When to do a complete cholesterol test?

A comprehensive cholesterol test, also called a lipid profile, is a blood test that measures the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. This cholesterol test can help determine your risk of fatty deposits (plaques) building up in your arteries, which can lead to narrowing or blockage of arteries throughout your body (atherosclerosis).

A test to prevent cardiovascular disease

A cholesterol test is an important tool. High cholesterol is often an important risk factor for coronary heart disease. High cholesterol usually causes no signs or symptoms. A comprehensive cholesterol test is done to determine if your cholesterol level is high and to estimate your risk of heart attack and other forms of heart disease and blood vessel disease.

A comprehensive cholesterol test includes the calculation of four types of fats in your blood:

1 Total cholesterol. This is the sum of the cholesterol content of your blood.

2 Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. It is called the “bad” cholesterol. Too much of it in the blood causes fatty deposits (plaques) to build up in the arteries (atherosclerosis), which reduces blood flow. These plaques sometimes rupture and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

3 High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. It’s called the “good” cholesterol because it helps break down LDL cholesterol, which keeps arteries open and blood flowing more freely.

4 Triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. When you eat, your body converts calories it doesn’t need into triglycerides, which are stored in fat cells. High triglyceride levels are associated with several factors, including being overweight, eating too much sugar or too much alcohol, smoking, being sedentary, or having diabetes with high blood sugar.

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Who should have a cholesterol test?

The first cholesterol screening should take place in young adults and then be repeated every five years.

A cholesterol screening every 1 to 2 years for men aged 45 to 65 and for women aged 55 to 65. People over 65 should have a cholesterol test every year. More frequent testing may be needed if your initial test results were abnormal, or if you already have coronary heart disease, are taking medication to lower cholesterol, or are at higher risk for coronary heart disease because that you:

– have a family history of high cholesterol or heart attacks.
– are overweight
– physically inactive
– are diabetic
– have an unhealthy diet
– smoke cigarettes.
People taking treatment for high cholesterol should have their cholesterol levels checked regularly to see if their treatment is working.


There are few risks involved in having a cholesterol test. You may feel pain or tenderness around where the blood is drawn.

How to prepare

You are usually asked to fast, which means not consuming any food or liquid other than water, for nine to twelve hours before the test. Some cholesterol tests do not require fasting, so follow your doctor’s instructions.

What you can expect

During the intervention

The cholesterol test is a blood test, usually done in the morning if you are fasting overnight. Blood is taken from a vein, usually in your arm.
Before the needle is inserted, the puncture site is cleaned with an antiseptic and a rubber band is wrapped around your arm. This allows the veins in your arm to fill with blood.

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After inserting the needle, a small amount of blood is collected in a vial or syringe. The band is then removed to restore circulation, and blood continues to flow into the vial. Once enough blood has been collected, the needle is removed and the puncture site is covered with a bandage.
The procedure only lasts a few minutes. It is relatively painless.

After the procedure

There are no precautions to take after your cholesterol test. You should be able to drive home and go about your normal business. If you have been fasting, you may bring a snack to eat after the cholesterol test.


In many European countries, cholesterol levels are measured in millimoles per liter (mmol/L). To interpret the results of your test, see your doctor.

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