What is the LDL Cholesterol Test?

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is a type of cholesterol present in the blood. For those 20 years or older, it is advised to get your cholesterol levels checked every five years. LDL is a combination of fat and proteins.

LDL is bad cholesterol since its high levels are not beneficial for your health. If there is an LDL build-up inside the arteries of the heart, it can increase the risk of heart diseases. It is usually tested along with high-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, and total cholesterol, or the physician may also order it alone. An LDL test helps the physician to understand the level of LDL in the patient’s body.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the LDL cholesterol test used for?

As part of the routine clinical evaluation, doctors may prescribe an LDL test to establish the risk of heart diseases and the necessity of medications. Doctors use the LDL test to understand the level of LDL present in the blood to determine the risk of heart disease, heart attack, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, stroke, and the patient's response to lipid-lowering therapies.

Understanding the test results of LDL cholesterol test

The ranges of LDL, which are considered normal to high are as follows – less than 100 mg/dL is an optimal range, between 100-129 mg/dL is near or above optimal, between 130-159 mg/dL is borderline high range, between 160-189 mg/dL is considered high, and 190 mg/dL or above is a very high LDL level. Always take the opinion of the treating physician.

Why do I need an LDL cholesterol test?

A high cholesterol level may not cause any symptoms, so those with known heart diseases, under treatment for high levels of cholesterol, or with a family history of high cholesterol are advised to get their cholesterol levels checked every once in a while. It is crucial to identify the risks for heart diseases, heart attacks, stroke, and atherosclerosis.

What happens during the LDL cholesterol test?

During the LDL test, a small amount of your blood will be collected into a vial or test tube by the healthcare professional. When blood is drawn from a vein, it usually feels like squeezing a water balloon, not getting a shot. You may have to hold still for five minutes or more while the needle is in place.

Does the LDL cholesterol test require fasting?

The blood samples for analyzing cholesterol levels are usually procured in a fasting state. Hence, the doctors instruct fasting for 10-12 hours before taking the blood samples for the LDL cholesterol test. When a person is fasting, they cannot drink or eat anything other than water. Nonetheless, a doctor may determine that an individual does not have to fast before an LDL blood test.

What does it mean if my LDL cholesterol is high?

If an individual has high LDL cholesterol, the doctor may inquire about their lifestyle, health, and family history to find the best treatment option for them. A high LDL cholesterol level indicates a high amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood. This can increase the risk of plaque formation in the blood vessels and increase the risk of developing cardiovascular events.

What is the fastest way to lower LDL cholesterol?

Along with medications, diet control and lifestyle modifications can significantly reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Limiting the intake of trans fat, reducing weight, exercising, increasing fiber intake, and consumption of fish, especially the omega-3 fatty acids of fish and red meat, are crucial in controlling the LDL levels. Another recommendation is stress reduction.

What is a good LDL level for a woman?

Ideally, for women, a good LDL level is less than 70 mg/dL. After menopause, females may experience a rise in LDL and total cholesterol levels and a fall in HDL levels. The reason for variations in cholesterol in women following menopause is due to the sex hormone called estrogen, which drops after menopause and is required to maintain an optimum range of HDL cholesterol.

What does low LDL mean in a blood test?

If the LDL cholesterol levels are less than 40 mg/dL, it is considered a very low LDL level. Even though the risks associated with low LDL levels are rare, they may be associated with an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke, cancer, and depression. Further, it may indicate underlying health issues such as inflammation, infection, hyperthyroidism, and inherited lipoprotein deficiencies.

What does it mean if my LDL cholesterol is high?

A high LDL result is associated with the risk of plaque formation, and that will eventually result in obstructed arteries. Thus, high LDL cholesterol is associated with a risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. However, medication, diet control, and lifestyle modifications can reduce or prevent the progression of the condition. So instead of panicking, seeking medical care is advised.

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