1. I had a screening test for cholesterol. It was less than 5.2 mmol/L. Do I need a lipid profile?
If your total cholesterol is below 4.0 and you have no family history of heart disease or other risk factors a full lipid profile is probably not necessary. However, an HDL-cholesterol measurement would be advisable to make sure that you do not have a low HDL. Many screening programmes now offer both cholesterol and HDL. If total cholesterol is below 4.0 and HDL is above 1.0, in the absence of other risk factors, a lipid profile is probably not necessary.
2. How often do I need a lipid profile test?
It has been recommended that healthy individuals with no other risks of heart disease should have cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol measured every five years. You do not need to have a full lipid profile. However, if you have other risk factors or have had a high cholesterol level in the past, you should be tested more regularly and you should have a full lipid profile.
3. My lipid profile results came back with high triglycerides and no LDL-cholesterol. Why?
In most screening lipid profiles, LDL-cholesterol is calculated from the other lipid measurements. However, the calculation is not valid if triglycerides are over 4.5 mmol/L or if you have not fasted. To determine LDL-cholesterol when triglycerides are over 4.5 mmol/L requires special testing techniques such as a direct LDL test or a lipid ultracentrifugation test which are not performed by most clinical laboratories.