Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can they measure my cholesterol through a blood test alone?"
What goes into testing cholesterol levels? How long will it take y results to com back?
Cholesterol is one of the basic building blocks of cell membranes and is critical for constructing many hormones. Unfortunately, cholesterol has other roles that are more harmful. The reason that so many doctors care about it is because cholesterol is involved in plaques in arteries and the disease process that causes strokes and heart attacks.
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This is where good cholesterol and bad cholesterol come into play. First, let me say a little about the “good” form of cholesterol, known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. HDL works in a number of ways, but importantly it helps transport other cholesterol particles from tissues and blood back to the liver, including helping to remove “bad” or low-density liopoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from plaques in arteries. High concentrations of LDL cholesterol are associated with increased plaque formation in the arteries, and it is these plaques that can narrow arteries or rupture and cause heart attacks and strokes. The levels of cholesterol are usually measured in total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. When you have your blood drawn, most physicians will check all of them. Though in the past it was more common to have your cholesterol checked first thing int the morning before having anything to eat, many physicians will now check it without needing to fast first. The results frequently come back in 48-72 hours, though sometimes it takes longer for the results to make it back to your doctor. If you are healthy and do not have any medical problems the current guidelines suggest a goal LDL below 130mg/dL, but if you have certain medical problems such as heart disease,diabetes or strokes the goal can be as low as 70. For HDL the goal is more straight forward 45mg/dL and the higher the better. Your primary care physician or cardiologist can best discuss your results to help you meet your goals. Good luck!
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