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Measuring Cholesterol Levels

Everyone age 20 and older should have his or her cholesterol measured at least once every five years. A blood test called a lipoprotein panel can help show whether you're at risk for coronary heart disease by looking at substances in your blood that carry cholesterol. This blood test is done after a 9-to-12-hour fast (no eating) and gives information about your:

·         Total cholesterol–a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

·         LDL (bad) cholesterol–the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries

·         HDL (good) cholesterol–HDL helps remove cholesterol from your arteries

·         Triglycerides–another form of fat in your blood that can raise your risk for heart disease

Risk Factors

Major Risk Factors That Affect Your LDL Goal

·         Cigarette smoking

·         High blood pressure (140/90 mmHg or higher or on blood pressure medication)

·         Low HDL cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL)

·         Family history of early heart disease (heart disease in father or brother before age 55; heart disease in mother or sister before age 65)

·         Age (men 45 years or older; women 55 years or older)