How to Diagnose High Cholesterol

If you think you might have high cholesterol and want to go in for a diagnosis, what can you expect? High cholesterol diagnosis is primarily done through blood tests. Just a physical exam can't tell the doctor much about your cholesterol levels.

==> What Is a Lipid Profile?

A lipid profile is a blood test specifically catered for testing for high cholesterol levels.
In order to make sure you get an accurate reading, your doctor will require that you skip meals for 12 hours before you take the test.

This is because certain levels in your blood can fluctuate whenever you eat food. In order to get a good baseline reading, they need you to not eat for a period of time.

They then take your blood using a needle. Much like taking blood for any other kind of test, your blood vessels will be constricted using a band to make them stand out. Blood will then be extracted and sent to the lab for testing and diagnosis.

==> The Different Parts of Your Lipid Profiles

There are a few numbers your doctor is going to come back with.

The first is your LDL cholesterol levels. LDL stands for "low density lipoproteins." Your LDL levels are the most important numbers you want to pay attention to if you're worried about high cholesterol.

Another important number to pay attention to is your HDL or "high density lipoprotein" levels. HDL is generally considered the "good" cholesterol that you want in your blood stream to help your cells function better.

The two other numbers your doctor will come back with are your triglyceride levels and your total cholesterol levels. Your triglycerides are also considered bad lipids. Your total cholesterol is the total of your HDL and LDL levels.

This is a basic explanation of what all these numbers are and what they mean. Your doctor can give you a more in-depth explanation of each factor and what they mean for you personally.

==> What Should Your Levels Be At?

Generally speaking, you want your LDL levels to be 3 or lower. Your total cholesterol should be 5 or lower.

Remember that these goals vary from person to person, depending on age, weight, smoking habits and other factors. There's no set goal or ideal level to hit overall; instead your specific target levels can be set by your doctor.

When you get your results back, your doctor is going to explain your cholesterol levels to you in terms of risk. Based on your levels, how likely are you to have heart complications in the next ten years?

Based on these results, a course of action can be recommended. Should you start taking medications? Should you start changing your lifestyle habits? These are all valid options depending on your risk levels.

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