Cholesterol, Total Most Popular

The following is a list of what is included in the item above. Click the test(s) below to view what biomarkers are measured along with an explanation of what the biomarker is measuring.

Also known as: Blood Cholesterol, Cholesterol Total, Total Cholesterol

Cholesterol, Total

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if you have too much in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood and stick to the walls of your arteries. This is called plaque. Plaque can narrow your arteries or even block them. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart disease. Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older. There are usually no signs or symptoms that you have high blood cholesterol, but it can be detected with a blood test. You are likely to have high cholesterol if members of your family have it, if you are overweight or if you eat a lot of fatty foods. You can lower your cholesterol by exercising more and eating more fruits and vegetables. You also may need to take medicine to lower your cholesterol.
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The Cholesterol, Total test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description:  The Cholesterol Total test is a blood test used to check total levels of cholesterol in your blood’s serum to determine risk of heart disease. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance produced by the liver and obtained from the diet. It plays a vital role in the body, serving as a building block for cell membranes and as a precursor for hormones and bile acids.

This test is for Cholesterol Total only. It does not include HDL, LDL, or Triglyceride levels.

Also Known As: Blood Cholesterol Test, Total Cholesterol Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: If a cholesterol measurement is to be performed along with triglycerides, the patient should be fasting for at least 9 hours.

When is a Cholesterol Total test ordered?

Cholesterol testing is advised as a screening test for all persons without heart disease risk factors at least once every four to six years. It is frequently combined with a standard physical examination.

When a person has one or more risk factors for heart disease, their cholesterol is tested more frequently.

Children and young people should have their lipid profiles checked for elevated cholesterol. Between the ages of 9 and 11, and again between the ages of 17 and 21, they should be tested. Children and teenagers who are at a higher risk of developing heart disease as adults should be screened with a lipid profile earlier and more frequently. A family history of heart disease or health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or being overweight are some of the risk factors, which are comparable to those in adults. Cholesterol testing is indicated when a child's BMI is at or above the 85th percentile. Laboratory testing to evaluate cholesterol levels may be recommended every two years for an obese adolescent.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, high-risk children should receive their first cholesterol test between the ages of 2 and 8. Children under the age of two are not eligible for testing. The fasting test should be repeated in three to five years if the initial results are not alarming.

Total cholesterol tests may be conducted at regular intervals as part of a lipid profile to assess the success of lipid-lowering lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, or to determine the efficacy of medication therapy like statins. Adults on statins should have a fasting lipid profile done 4 to 12 weeks after commencing therapy and then every 3 to 12 months after that to ensure that the drug is effective, according to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

What does a Cholesterol Total blood test check for?

Cholesterol is a vital component of life. It creates cell membranes in all of the body's organs and tissues. Hormones required for development, growth, and reproduction are produced using it. It produces bile acids, which are necessary for food absorption. The total cholesterol transported in the blood by lipoproteins is measured by the cholesterol test.

Lipoproteins are complex particles that carry a small quantity of cholesterol in the blood. Each particle comprises a mixture of protein, cholesterol, triglyceride, and phospholipid molecules, and they are classed as high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins, or very low-density lipoproteins based on their density. LDL-C particles, also known as "bad" cholesterol, deposit cholesterol in tissues and organs whereas HDL-C particles take excess cholesterol away for disposal.

It is critical to monitor and maintain good cholesterol levels in order to stay healthy. The body manufactures the cholesterol it needs to function correctly, although some cholesterol comes from food. If a person has a hereditary propensity to high cholesterol levels or consumes too many foods high in saturated and trans unsaturated fats, the amount of cholesterol in their blood may rise, posing a health risk. Plaques on the walls of blood arteries may form as a result of excess cholesterol in the circulation. Plaques can constrict or block blood channel openings, resulting in artery hardening (atherosclerosis) and an increased risk of a variety of health problems, including heart disease and stroke.

Lab tests often ordered with a Cholesterol Total test:

When a Cholesterol Total test is ordered, it's typically part of a broader evaluation of lipid metabolism and heart health. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside it:

  1. Lipid Panel:

    • Purpose: To measure levels of different types of lipids in the blood, including LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To provide a more comprehensive picture of lipid health and cardiovascular risk. LDL cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, while HDL cholesterol is considered protective.
  2. Triglycerides:

    • Purpose: To measure the level of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: High triglyceride levels can increase the risk of heart disease and are often associated with other conditions like diabetes and obesity.
  3. Liver Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess liver health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: The liver plays a crucial role in lipid metabolism, and liver diseases can affect cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  4. Thyroid Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess thyroid function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Hypothyroidism can lead to elevated cholesterol levels, so it's important to rule out thyroid disorders.
  5. High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP):

    • Purpose: To measure CRP, a marker of inflammation in the body.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Inflammation is a risk factor for atherosclerosis and heart disease. Elevated hs-CRP levels can indicate increased cardiovascular risk.
  6. Glucose and Hemoglobin A1c:

    • Purpose: To measure blood sugar levels and assess for diabetes or pre-diabetes.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Diabetes is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease and can be associated with abnormal lipid levels.

These tests, when ordered alongside a Cholesterol Total test, provide a comprehensive view of cardiovascular risk and overall health. They are crucial for identifying and managing conditions that affect heart health, such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. The specific combination of tests will depend on the individual’s risk factors, symptoms, and overall health status.

Conditions where a Cholesterol Total test is recommended:

A Cholesterol Total test is necessary for:

  1. Hyperlipidemia: To diagnose and manage high cholesterol levels, which are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

  2. Atherosclerosis: To assess the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition where cholesterol plaques build up in the arteries, narrowing blood flow.

How does my health care provider use a Cholesterol Total test?

The total cholesterol test is used alone or in conjunction with a lipid profile to assist forecast an individual's risk of developing heart disease and to help determine what treatment may be required if the risk is borderline or high. It can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment once it is started as part of a lipid profile

Cholesterol testing is considered a normal aspect of preventative healthcare because high blood cholesterol has been linked to artery hardening, heart disease, and an increased risk of mortality from heart attacks.

The results of the cholesterol test and other components of the lipid profile, as well as other recognized heart disease risk factors, are utilized to build a treatment and follow-up strategy. Treatment options may include lipid-lowering medicines such as statins or lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise regimens.

What do my Cholesterol test results mean?

Healthy lipid levels, in general, aid in the maintenance of a healthy heart and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. To evaluate a person's overall risk of heart disease, if therapy is necessary, and, if so, which treatment will best serve to minimize the person's risk, a healthcare practitioner will consider total cholesterol results and the other components of a lipid profile, as well as other risk factors.

Most Common Questions About the Cholesterol Total test:

Understanding the Cholesterol Total Test

What does the Cholesterol Total test measure?

The Cholesterol Total test measures the total amount of cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol is a type of lipid, or fat, that's crucial for various bodily functions but can lead to health problems if levels are too high.

What is the relevance of the Cholesterol Total test in medical diagnostics?

The Cholesterol Total test is often used to assess the risk of developing heart disease. High levels of cholesterol can lead to the build-up of plaques in arteries, which can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Why would a doctor recommend a Cholesterol Total test?

A doctor might recommend a Cholesterol Total test as part of a routine health screening, especially if you have risk factors for heart disease. These risk factors include family history, obesity, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and a diet high in saturated fats.

Are there different types of cholesterol that can be measured in the Cholesterol Total test?

While the Cholesterol Total test measures the overall cholesterol level in your blood, there are indeed different types of cholesterol. These include low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). LDL is often referred to as "bad" cholesterol, while HDL is known as "good" cholesterol. The levels of these different types are usually measured separately in a lipid panel test.

Interpreting Cholesterol Total Test Results

What do high levels of total cholesterol indicate in the test results?

High levels of total cholesterol in the test results may indicate an increased risk of developing heart disease. It may also suggest that lifestyle changes or medication may be needed to reduce cholesterol levels.

What do low levels of total cholesterol indicate in the test results?

Low levels of total cholesterol are generally considered healthy. However, extremely low levels may be a concern in certain situations and could suggest problems with malnutrition or the body's ability to absorb nutrients.

The Cholesterol Total Test and Specific Health Conditions

Can the Cholesterol Total test diagnose heart disease?

While the Cholesterol Total test can indicate an increased risk of heart disease, it doesn't diagnose the disease itself. Other tests and evaluations are needed to diagnose heart disease.

How is the Cholesterol Total test used in managing patients with diabetes?

Patients with diabetes often have an increased risk of heart disease. The Cholesterol Total test can be used to monitor and manage this risk as part of a comprehensive diabetes management plan.

Can a Cholesterol Total test help diagnose high blood pressure (hypertension)?

While high cholesterol can contribute to high blood pressure, the Cholesterol Total test alone cannot diagnose hypertension. Blood pressure measurements are needed for this.

The Cholesterol Total Test and Lifestyle

Can lifestyle changes affect the results of a Cholesterol Total test?

Yes, lifestyle changes can significantly affect cholesterol levels. Regular exercise, a diet low in saturated and trans fats, and maintaining a healthy weight can all help lower total cholesterol levels.

Can the Cholesterol Total test monitor the effectiveness of lifestyle changes or medication?

Yes, the Cholesterol Total test is often used to monitor how well lifestyle changes or cholesterol-lowering medications are working.

Can smoking or alcohol affect the Cholesterol Total test results?

Yes, both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can increase cholesterol levels and affect the results of the Cholesterol Total test.

The Cholesterol Total Test and Other Diagnostic Tools

How is the Cholesterol Total test used in conjunction with a lipid panel?

The Cholesterol Total test is often part of a lipid panel, which also measures LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. This panel provides a more comprehensive picture of your lipid levels and heart disease risk.

Can a Cholesterol Total test be used along with a blood pressure test?

Yes, since both high cholesterol and high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease, these tests are often used together as part of a comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment.

Can a Cholesterol Total test be part of a complete blood count (CBC)? No, a Cholesterol Total test is not part of a CBC. A CBC measures different components of the blood such as red and white blood cells, hemoglobin, and platelets.

Can a Cholesterol Total test be used in conjunction with tests for kidney function?

Yes, kidney function can affect cholesterol levels, and kidney disease can increase the risk of heart disease. So, these tests can be used together in managing these related health issues.

Frequency and Timing of Cholesterol Total Testing

How often should a Cholesterol Total test be done?

The frequency of testing depends on your individual risk factors, but adults are generally advised to have their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. Those with certain risk factors may need to be tested more frequently.

Is there an optimal time of day to have a Cholesterol Total test?

Traditionally, cholesterol testing is done after an overnight fast. However, research has shown that non-fasting cholesterol tests can also accurately predict cardiovascular risk. Your healthcare provider will guide you on this.

The Cholesterol Total Test and Different Populations

Can elderly individuals benefit from a Cholesterol Total test?

Yes, the risk of heart disease increases with age, so elderly individuals can benefit from cholesterol testing.

Can the Cholesterol Total test be used for assessing heart disease risk in women?

Yes, while men have a higher risk of heart disease at a younger age, the risk for women increases after menopause, and cholesterol testing can be important in assessing this risk.

Should athletes or physically active individuals have a Cholesterol Total test?

Even athletes and physically active individuals can have high cholesterol, especially if they have other risk factors. So, they can also benefit from cholesterol testing.

Can the Cholesterol Total test detect familial hypercholesterolemia?

Yes, the Cholesterol Total test can help detect familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder characterized by high cholesterol levels, especially if other family members have been diagnosed with this condition.

Can the Cholesterol Total test help manage patients with thyroid conditions?

Yes, both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can affect cholesterol levels. So, the Cholesterol Total test can be important in managing these conditions.

Is a Cholesterol Total test recommended for people with liver disease?

Yes, the liver plays a crucial role in cholesterol metabolism, and people with liver disease can often have altered cholesterol levels. So, this test can be useful in this population.

Can the Cholesterol Total test be used in pediatric populations?

Yes, while children generally have lower heart disease risk, those with certain risk factors, such as obesity or a family history of early heart disease, may benefit from cholesterol testing.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

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