Few people encounter the term “lipid profile test.” It is only when this type of laboratory assessment is requested that patients understand its purpose.
However, learning about what the lipid profile test reveals about your health is a good advantage even without any ailments.
For starters, you will have an overview of your risks to known chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Likewise, you can monitor your cholesterol level and adjust your diet or certain activities according to your health requirements.
Taking a lipid profile test is a great way to stay ahead of your health. So let’s make sense of how this test provides factual information about your overall well being.
What Is a Lipid Profile Test For?
A lipid profile test is performed to measure the levels of lipids or fats in your blood.
There are four common types of lipids assessed through lipid screening: total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
Total cholesterol is the measure of all the types of cholesterol found in the blood.
Triglycerides are the type of fats coming from the excessive calories from food. When these calories are unused, they are converted and stored into such fats.
LDL is often referred to as bad cholesterol. It is the type of lipid that forms plaques in the arterial walls.
On the other hand, HDL is good cholesterol. Unlike LDL, HDL does not accumulate in the blood vessels. Instead, this type of lipid helps remove other cholesterol from the bloodstream transporting them back to the liver for excretion.
These lipids are assessed to diagnose chronic diseases and evaluate your risks.
Is Fasting Required for a Lipid Profile Test?
Fasting is required for a lipid profile test to ensure that the results will be accurate.
Your most recent food intake can affect the levels of cholesterol in your blood, particularly LDL and triglycerides. Therefore, to avoid errors in the reading, you need to fast for about 8 to 12 hours before testing.
Normal Lipid Profile Test Results
Interpreting test results for lipid profiles may vary according to age, health history, and gender. Therefore, it is best to have medical experts and doctors assess the result rather than analyzing it yourself. Nonetheless, you could have an overview of what is accepted as healthy lipid levels for adults.
- Total Cholesterol – <200 mg/dL
- Triglycerides – <150 mg/dL
- LDL – <100 mg/dL
- HDL – >40 mg/dL
Are There Warning Signs for High Cholesterol?
Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of high cholesterol.
Some people only learn about their alarming cholesterol levels when they experience a stroke or a heart attack. Others are lucky enough to find out about it during their annual checkup.
The only way to detect elevated cholesterol levels before it’s too late is through a blood test. However, you may get a hint of a condition if you observe the following signs:
- High blood pressure
- Excessive weight gain
- Suggestive habits like smoking
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Shortness of breath after a brief activity
Diseases Associated With Lipid Abnormality
Like any other macromolecules in the body, cholesterol should come in healthy levels. Otherwise, it paves the way to chronic diseases that lead to serious health problems and even death.
The severity of the impact of lipid abnormality along with its prevalence has been widely recognized by doctors and experts.
According to the CDC, about 93 million American adults have higher than healthy total cholesterol levels. However, not everyone takes a full action to normalize their cholesterol.
Indeed, cholesterol remains a vital requirement for health and wellness. But elevated lipid levels can trigger the development of the following illnesses.
1. Heart Disease
When bad cholesterol is mentioned, the first health condition often associated with it is heart disease. That’s because excessive cholesterol, especially LDL, is the main culprit for various cardiovascular health conditions.
LDLs tend to accumulate and buildup on the walls of the arteries restricting blood flow. This leads to a cardiovascular disorder known as atherosclerosis.
As blood cells struggle to move through the blood vessels, oxygen transport can be compromised, resulting in fatal heart attacks.
Aside from LDLs, triglycerides are also linked to the hardening of the arterial walls. Although the causative relationship is yet to be strengthened, research supports their association.
There has always been a sensible link between cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. Clearly, they share close affinity as both conditions are influenced by elevated cholesterol levels.
The blockage in the blood vessels caused by the accumulation of hardened lipids and some minerals pushes the heart to pump the blood harder. As a result, blood pressure is increased, characterizing hypertension.
Thyroid hormones play an active role in the conversion and storage of fats in the liver. T3 (triiodothyronine), for example, stimulates fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure.
Research has shown that there is a clear link between underactive thyroid glands that produce these hormones and high lipid levels in the blood.
Therefore, if you have elevated cholesterol levels, a crucial step in evaluating your overall health and risk for diseases is assessing the functionality of the thyroid glands.
People diagnosed with diabetes are also at risk of heart disease. In the same way, those with high LDLs, triglycerides, and total cholesterol levels should also watch out for the development of type 2 diabetes.
The association between elevated lipid levels and diabetes became evident with diabetic dyslipidemia. This condition occurs among diabetic patients wherein their lipid levels are significantly altered with an increase in the LDLs and triglyceride levels and a decrease in HDL levels.
It pretty much cements the connection between high blood glucose levels and heart disease.
5. Fatty Liver Disease
The liver is responsible for burning fats. While it does an incredible job processing lipids from foods, excessive fats can cause significant malfunction and damages to this organ.
A condition referred to as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, is triggered by fatty liver caused by high cholesterol levels. It is fatal and can cause other serious health issues in the liver like cirrhosis and liver cancer.
6. Kidney Disease
High lipid levels in the blood are not just bad for the heart and liver. It’s also detrimental to your kidneys. According to the National Kidney Foundation, elevated cholesterol levels can lead to kidney malfunctions.
Research has shown that people with increased LDL and reduced HDL have a lower glomerular filtration rate (GFR).
GFR is a standard tool in assessing kidney function as it measures the amount of blood filtered by the glomeruli per minute. Therefore, reduced GFR suggests that the kidneys are not functioning at an optimal level.
How To Reduce Lipid Levels in the Blood
Deciding to lower your lipid levels is a crucial step for a healthier you. In this process, you may find out that the recommended lifestyle changes are pretty much familiar.
Nonetheless, these actions are even more critical when it comes to reducing cholesterol levels.
1. Avoid Fatty Foods
It’s all about nutrition. Since cholesterol mainly comes from the food you eat, it only makes sense that you alter your nutrition.
Having unhealthy levels of cholesterol means saying goodbye to the following:
- Deep-fried foods
- Processed Meats
- Fast Food
- Sweets and Pastries
- Fatty Dairy Products
Instead, plan your meals around fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and other healthier alternatives. Include organic food such as the following in your grocery list:
- Chia seeds
- Collard greens
- Whole grains
2. Exercise Regularly
Aside from changes in your diet, make sure to get into a more active lifestyle by exercising regularly. This way, your metabolism increases, and fats will burn instead of building up as plaques in the arterial walls.
Moreover, regular exercise is guaranteed to help you lose weight. The number of pounds you shed could depend on the intensity and frequency of your workout or exercise.
3. Quit Smoking and Excessive Alcohol Drinking
Research has found that smoking increases bad cholesterol and triglycerides while reducing good cholesterol. Therefore, quitting smoking is highly recommended.
On the other hand, moderate alcohol drinking seemed to have no significant effect on cholesterol levels, but excessive alcohol consumption has.
As you know by now, your liver is a critical organ for fat metabolism. And too much alcohol can destroy your liver cells, resulting in the inability to properly process and utilize fats during energy conversion.
Hence, if you truly wish to reduce your cholesterol levels, giving up alcohol can be beneficial.
The Bottom Line
Doctors and medical experts recommend taking a lipid profile test, especially if you have increased risks for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and other high cholesterol-related diseases. It is an effective step to prevent the development of these disorders.
Understanding your cholesterol level allows you to make the necessary lifestyle adjustments to restore your good health.
It makes you more conscious about the food you eat, your daily activities, and the habits you adopt.