Cholesterol (Lipid profile)

A lipid profile is a combination of tests performed together to check for any potential risks of heart disease. It is also used to check for risks that depend on factors like diet, eating habits, stress, lifestyle, and exercise. Lipids are fatty substances and fats that can be found in the tissue and blood and are used by the body as a source of energy.

Lipids help the body function normally. However, when there is a lipid disorder such as high cholesterol, this may lead to life threatening conditions such as strokes, coronary artery disease or heart attacks.

What are the reasons for my levels to change?

There are many reasons for your lipids not to function properly. One of the most common reasons is a genetic predisposition. Nonetheless, lifestyle habits play an important role in keeping lipid levels within a healthy range. In particular, a diet made up of high saturated fats, carbohydrates, and sugars may lead to increased lipid levels.

When should I get tested?

It is important to get tested on a regular basis, as in the early stages of a lipid disorder there are no symptoms.

Testing when there are no risk factors: An adult should get tested once every 4 to 6 years. For teens and children, they should get tested once between 9 and 11 and once again between 17 and 21.

Monitoring when you have risk factor: if a previous test has unveiled high risk levels, it is recommended to test on a regular basis to monitor any changes and effectiveness of treatment.

What is being tested:​

High-density Lipoproteids (HDL) are also known as the “good” cholesterol due to the fact that it carries cholesterol from different parts of the body back to the liver, which then removes it.
Low-density Lipoproteins (LDL) are also known as the “bad” cholesterol, and are calculated based on the triglyceride levels in the blood. High levels of LDL lead to a build-up of cholesterol in the arteries.
Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. When you eat more food than your body needs it converts the extra calories into triglycerides that are stored by the body in fat cells. When high levels of triglyceride are detected in the blood, it is usually related to several factors such as being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, eating too many sweet foods, smoking, or having diabetes with high sugar levels.
Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance that can be found in all the cells in the body. The body requires some cholesterol to create vitamin D hormones and substances that help with the digestion. When there is too much cholesterol, it can combine with other substances in the blood that can lead to plaque that sticks to the walls of the arteries. This can cause atherosclerosis or coronary artery decease.
The Triglyceride / HDL Ratio is calculated to measure the LDL particle size. Small and dense LDL particles are harmful for the health of the heart. Research has shown that there is a strong link between Triglyceride / HDL Ratio and the risk of a heart disease. So even if total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol are at a normal level, a high Triglyceride / HDL Ratio indicates an increased risk of heart disease.
Non-HDL cholesterol is measured by subtracting HDL cholesterol from the total cholesterol. A high level of non-HDL Cholesterol is an additional indicator to see if there is risk of heart disease. In particular, this test is used when triglycerides levels are very high, which makes the LDL cholesterol less accurate.
HDL/Total cholesterol ratio is calculated by dividing the total cholesterol level with the HDL cholesterol level. A low HDL/Total cholesterol ratio is an additional indicator for suggesting heart disease.