What is a lipid panel blood test?


Quick Answer

A lipid panel is a test that measures cholesterol levels in the blood, explains WebMD. The results of the test show the amount of total cholesterol as well as the amount of low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein and triglycerides in the blood.

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Full Answer

The lipid panel is an important test because it assesses the risks of heart disease, according to WebMD. The American Heart Association recommends cholesterol evaluations begin at the age of 20 years.

Total cholesterol is considered to be normal if it falls below 200 milligrams per deciliter, while normal levels for LDL are less than 100 milligrams per deciliter, explains WebMD. Acceptable HDL levels are between 40 and 59 milligrams per deciliter, and optimal levels are above 60 milligrams per deciliter. Triglycerides are considered to be elevated when they are above 200 milligrams per deciliter. Abnormal levels of these values suggest an increased risk for heart disease.

Some important ways to reduce cholesterol include diet, exercise and medication, explains WebMD. A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber and plant sterols can lower LDL, or "bad," cholesterol by as much as 30 percent. Exercise can also help lower LDL and raise HDL levels. Medication is prescribed when cholesterol levels remain high despite diet and exercise. This includes the use of statins, niacin, fibrates, Zetia, or bile acid sequestrants.

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