Testing Your Total Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol and HDL Cholesterol Levels are Critical in Assessing
High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for developing heart disease and stroke. The National Cholesterol Education Program advises that if you are 20 years of age or older you should have your cholesterol tested every 5 years. If you are over 35 years old, test every 2 years and if you are 45 or older, have a cholesterol blood test performed annually.
Regardless of your age if your last test showed results of total cholesterol at 200 mg/dl or above you should have a full blood panel cholesterol test performed annually and more frequently if you suspect heart problems, or have a history of heart disease.
If you are on cholesterol reducing drugs such as a Statin or even a natural treatment method such as cholesterol supplements, beginning a low cholesterol diet and/or beginning exercise regimes; you will want to monitor your results 2-3 months after your treatment program begins and continue to monitor your progress every 3 months until you reach safe levels.
Types of Cholesterol Tests
Most cholesterol blood panel tests are taken in your doctor’s office or at clinic. The cost of a cholesterol blood panel will range between $45-$70 in addition to the cost of the office visit. A blood sample will be drawn and sent to a lab for analysis. Your cholesterol test results will be returned in the form of a written report. Your cholesterol blood panel test results will tell you your total cholesterol level plus levels of LDL, HDL, triglycerides and ratios.
Some people prefer the savings and convenience of a home cholesterol test. These are especially popular for people who are uninsured or have a high insurance deductible, those who are ambulatory or confined to home.
Home Cholesterol Tests
Preparing for Cholesterol Testing
Regardless of the type of cholesterol test you choose, an office visit or home cholesterol test, you will want to be sure to follow these four important cholesterol testing guidelines.
The Meaning of Cholesterol Blood Panel Numbers
Having your cholesterol tested periodically (see recommended frequency above) to determine the range of where your cholesterol level falls is an important step towards reducing heart attack risk, better health and peace of mind!
A good rule to follow is that any total cholesterol reading below 200 is generally considered a low risk. A total cholesterol reading over 240 indicates that you have a high cholesterol level and are at risk for developing coronary disease.
In addition, your LDL cholesterol should measure below 130 and your HDL cholesterol should range between 35 and 45. Many practitioners prefer HDL cholesterol levels to be 50 or above. Why? Good cholesterol actually helps remove bad cholesterol, so when your HDL, cholesterol or "good" cholesterol, reaches 50 or higher, you actually have the benefit of reducing your chance of heart attack. You can see a more detailed risk assessment in the following section.
The Cholesterol Level Scale and Cholesterol Chart will help you understand what your numbers mean and the associated risk you may have depending on a number of factors. This is highly useful, possibly life saving information you will certainly want to have.