What Is Lipid Panel Testing?
94 million people who live in the United States struggle with cholesterol issues. By having total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL, these individuals are putting themselves at risk for medical issues, like diabetes and heart disease.
Getting your cholesterol levels checked should be a part of your yearly medical exam. However, some patients may not get tested if they don’t get regular check-ups or aren’t at high risk for developing the condition.
Unfortunately, everyone in the United States today is at moderate risk for developing cholesterol issues. That’s why each one of us needs regular lipid panel testing. No matter what your diet is, it’s likely that you’re taking in more cholesterol than you think.
To learn more about lipid panel testing and cholesterol levels, keep reading.
What Is Lipid Panel Testing?
A lipid panel measures fat and fatty substances that are in your body. By using a sample of your blood, a lipid panel can determine the levels of cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and triglycerides in your blood.
Lipids are essential for your body to function. However, having too many of these fatty substances can be harmful.
When lipid levels become increased in your body, you may develop life-threatening illnesses. You could develop coronary heart disease. It may even progress to a heart attack or a stroke.
What to Expect With Lipid Panel Testing
If your physician orders a lipid panel, it’s likely a part of your annual exam. Many practitioners check their patients’ cholesterol levels every single year to make sure that they aren’t putting themselves at risk for dangerous conditions.
The preparation for the lipid panel will depend on the types of blood tests you’re getting.
Some lipid panels require the patient to stop eating or drinking for 9 to 12 hours before the test. Others may ask the patient to avoid alcohol or heavy exercise before the test.
If you’re not sure what to do, ask your practitioner before testing day. They (or someone from their office) can let you know if you need to follow any special instructions prior to the appointment.
After testing, it’s time to consider the blood test results. Your practitioner will review the results and recommend the best course of action based on your cholesterol levels. If you do have a lipid disorder, you may need to make personal changes or start treatment.
Normal Cholesterol Levels
The lipid blood test results are going to depend on several factors. Your age, sex, and health history will affect your results. Even the testing method can change cholesterol levels.
The optimal cholesterol levels for each person varies based on your medical conditions and your practitioner’s recommendations. However, there are standard recommendations for each category in an adult lipid panel test:
- Total Cholesterol Levels: Less than 200 mg/dL
- LDL Blood Test Levels (Bad Cholesterol): Less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL Blood Test Levels (Good Cholesterol): More than 40 mg/dL
- Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL
Your practitioner may have different goals for you if you have a medical condition. If so, you should follow your practitioner’s recommendations. They know more about your personal habits and needs.
Factors That Affect Lipid Panel Results
Lipids are sensitive to eating patterns, exercise, emotions, and more.
The most influential factor is eating patterns. Most lipids panels recommend that patients fast prior to testing so that food doesn’t influence their lipid panel results. Most foods are going to increase the cholesterol levels in your system.
Strenuous exercise can also alter your cholesterol levels. More specifically, it can decrease your LDL levels and raise your HDL levels. Similarly, long periods of sitting and standing can decrease triglycerides.
Having periods of high stress can decrease HDL levels. On the other hand, stress events like a heart attack or stroke can cause LDL levels to decrease.
Inflammation and infection can increase triglyceride levels and decrease total cholesterol and LDL levels.
In general, you should avoid getting lipid testing done within three months of any major health event. Large events like these can alter your cholesterol levels and lead to misdiagnosis.
Any kind of event that alters your body’s chemistry can affect cholesterol levels. These include smoking, exercise, eating, drinking alcohol, losing or gaining weight, or having chronic illnesses. If any of these long-term habits apply to you, you should let your practitioner know before they perform any testing.
How to Lower Cholesterol Levels
Many people today are looking to lower their cholesterol levels. They may have a chronic illness, need some guidance about food choices, or fall into another category.
No matter the cause, cholesterol levels can be controlled. However, it may take some guidance and care from a practitioner and some trial and error from you.
Here are some great things to try if you’re looking to lower your cholesterol levels:
- Avoid saturated fats and trans fat as much as possible
- Look for foods that have “no cholesterol” or “low cholesterol” on the label
- Search for foods with the American Heart Association’s tag on the front
- Incorporate more cardio workouts into your routine
- Quit smoking or reduce your current frequency of smoking
If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, you should talk to your practitioner. They may have more specific guidance on how you can lower your cholesterol.
Some practitioners may recommend that overweight patients try to lose weight, while others may want to focus on diet. Your practitioner’s recommendations will be based on your health history and lipid panel testing.
Get Lipid Panel Testing
A lipid panel can tell you a lot about your health. In fact, it’s so important that primary providers perform lipid panel testing during annual checkups.
Today, cholesterol levels are higher than in previous generations. So, we need to work harder to take care of ourselves and get our cholesterol levels under control.
If you need to get your lipid panel testing done, order blood test results from Precision Labs. We offer flexible, customizable service options for all of our patients.
The sooner you get your results, the sooner you can take the right steps towards a healthier future.