A lipid profile is a blood test that measures the different types of cholesterol in your blood. The test measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol (the "bad cholesterol") and triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease while high levels of HDL cholesterol reduce one's risk for heart disease. The test is usually performed fasting and patients are told to fast for at least 8 hours before the blood test is drawn. This is because LDL cholesterol in a lipid profile test is usually calculated and not measured directly and if someone has just eaten triglyceride levels may increase and LDL cholesterol cannot be accurately measured. A fasting lipid profile can help assess your risk for cardiovascular disease.
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The main results that one will get in a lipid profile is not just the total level of cholesterol, but also, importantly, the amount of the different types of cholesterol. High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and/or triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Importantly, low HDL (good) cholesterol is also associated with increased risk.
Brigham and Women's Hospital answeredA fasting lipid profile test is a simple blood test. This test requires patients to abstain from eating eight hours prior to having their blood drawn. The test provides information on total cholesterol, type of cholesterol and ratios, and triglyceride levels to develop a profile of the patient's baseline risk of heart disease.