fasting blood cholesterol

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Definition - What does fasting blood cholesterol mean?

Fasting blood cholesterol is a blood test that is conducted after a patient has fasted. A fasting blood cholesterol test is used to detect high cholesterol, a condition that puts an individual at risk for heart disease. The fasting period for this test is usually nine to twelve hours during which time only water may be ingested. Following this fasting period blood samples are drawn and tested to determine the patient's lipid profile. The full profile will include measures of a patient's total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) cholesterol, and triglycerides. A fasting blood cholesterol test may be referred to as a lipid panel or lipid profile.

SureHire explains fasting blood cholesterol

A fasting blood cholesterol test is often ordered by a doctor in order to detect early signs of possible danger of heart disease in a patient. Diet and exercise are factors in cholesterol numbers but genes and age are also a large factor in cholesterol ratings so that doctors may order this test on individuals with no outward signs of concern.

While high cholesterol is often referred to as a risk factor for heart disease, not all cholesterol is bad. High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are considered good because they protect against heart disease by preventing the build up of plaque in the arteries. Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), on the other hand, cause plaque which can build up in a person's arteries slowing or blocking the flow of blood to the heart. This condition is sometimes referred to as hardening of the arteries. Because some foods can temporarily elevate the level of lipids, or fat-containing molecules, in the bloodstream, cholesterol tests have usually been conducted following an overnight fast.

Healthy individuals should have a total cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or less while a level of 240 mg/dL or more is considered high. An LDL level of less than 100 mg/dL is considered healthy with a level of 130 to 159 mg/dL considered borderline high and levels above 190 mg/dL very high.

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