Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that's found in your blood and every cell of your body. You need some cholesterol to keep your cells and organs healthy. Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. But you can also get cholesterol from the foods you eat, especially meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy products. Foods that are high in dietary fat can also make your liver produce more cholesterol.

There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol. A cholesterol test is a blood test that measures the amount of each type of cholesterol and certain fats in your blood.

Too much LDL cholesterol in your blood may put you at risk for heart disease and other serious conditions. High LDL levels can cause the build-up of plaque, a fatty substance that narrows the arteries and blocks blood from flowing normally. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause a heart attack. When blood flow to the brain is blocked, it can lead to stroke and peripheral artery disease.

Other names for a cholesterol test: Lipid profile, Lipid panel


To monitor lipid-lowering therapy treatments and to screen for the risk of possibly developing a heart disease.


When there are no risk factors for heart disease present, screening should be done as part of your regular health exam with a lipid profile.

Adults: Test once every four to six years. Children/Teens/Young Adults: Test once between the ages of 9 and 11. Repeat test between the ages of 17 and 21.

When risk factors for heart disease are present (e.g. high-risk levels have been shown on prior lab results), this test may be done more often to monitor the risk. Cholesterol should also be test when you are undergoing treatment for unhealthy lipid levels.

    • Why do I need this test?


  • Your doctor may order a cholesterol test as part of a routine exam, or if you have a family history of heart disease or one or more of the following risk factors:
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Excess weight or obesity
  • Lack of physical activity
  • A diet high in saturated fat


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Note: The medical information provided here in this website is for informational purposes only and is not to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.