Did you know the average adult has around 50 billion fat cells, and that fat cells can survive for up to ten years? It sounds shocking, but before you throw away the ice cream in the freezer and swear off late night snacks, we have some great news - not all fat cells are bad. In fact, there are several types of fat, including lipids, that play important roles in your body.
There are three main types of lipid:
Your blood lipid levels are an indicator of several important health factors, including your cholesterol levels, whether you’re at risk of heart disease, and much more. Below is a look at what a lipid panel blood test is, what it is used for, and how to interpret the results of this test.
A lipid panel, also known as a lipid profile, is a blood test that measures the amount of lipid fat molecules in your blood. This blood test consists of five different types of testing, these include:
Healthcare practitioners typically recommend that you get your first lipid panel blood test at the age of 45 if you are a man and at the age of 50 if you are a woman. However, your healthcare provider may suggest you get tested earlier if you are a smoker or you suffer from or are at high risk of certain diseases such as:
Or if you have:
A lipid panel test can be performed in your doctor’s office or a hospital, or a clinic. It is usually performed by a nurse or a lab technician. Alternatively, you could have your blood cholesterol sample taken at home.
Mobile labs, like Getlabs, are becoming more and more popular. If you choose to use a home phlebotomy service, a nurse or certified lab technician will visit your home, collect a blood sample, and transport it to a local laboratory for testing. The results will then be delivered to your doctor.
Typically, in preparation for your lipid panel blood test, your doctor will ask you to fast for 10-12 hours prior to the test. This means consuming no food or liquids other than water. This is so that you get the most accurate results from your test. If you have questions about fasting before a blood test, we covered the topic more in-depth here.
If you do not fast beforehand, your LDL levels may be affected by what you eat.
Here’s what to expect from your home lipid panel blood test:
The entire procedure usually takes less than five minutes.
There is very little risk to having a lipid panel blood test. You may notice mild tenderness or slight bruising at the needle site, but this will quickly resolve. If you notice any numbness or tingling in your arm or you feel nauseous or dizzy during your blood draw, you should alert your specialist straight away.
Once your blood sample has been taken to the lab for testing, your doctor should receive the results within 24-48 hours. Your doctor will contact you with your results by phone or through your laboratory's patient portal shortly after they have received them.
Once you’ve received your test results, you will need to know what the numbers mean. Here’s an explanation for each of the five lab tests:
After assessing the complete results of your lipid blood panel, your doctor will consider your risk factors and set a personal LDL goal for you to strive for.
If you are at risk of or already suffer from heart disease, your LDL goal could be as low as 70 mg/dL if your risk for cardiovascular disease is very high. If your risk of heart disease is moderate, a target of below 160 mg/dL should be adequate.
To help you attain these goals, your healthcare provider may prescribe statins to reduce your cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides and suggest some lifestyle changes.
Your blood lipid levels are an important indication of whether your cholesterol levels are within the healthy range or too high. If they are too high, you are at a greater risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. A lipid panel blood test will measure your lipid level and tell your doctor whether you need to set new goals for your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
If you would prefer to have your blood sample taken at home, rather than having to make a visit to the hospital or your doctor’s office, Getlabs provides a convenient, safe, and confidential service in the comfort of your home. If you want to learn more about Getlabs, visit www.getlabs.com/faq to learn more.
This page is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute the provision of medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice regarding any of the tests and conditions referenced above are advised to consult with a licensed clinician. Always seek the advice of your qualified health provider regarding a medical condition and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information on this page. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or go to the nearest urgent care center or hospital.
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