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Cholesterol is a substance (a steroid) that is essential for life. It forms the membranes for cells in all organs and tissues in the body. It is used to make hormones that are essential for development, growth, and reproduction. It forms bile acids that are needed to absorb nutrients from food. The test for cholesterol measures total cholesterol that is carried in the blood by lipoproteins.
A small amount of cholesterol circulates in the blood in complex particles called lipoproteins. Each particle contains a combination of protein, cholesterol, triglyceride, and phospholipid molecules and the particles are classified by their density into high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). HDL-C particles, sometimes called "good" cholesterol, carry excess cholesterol away for disposal and LDL-C particles, or "bad" cholesterol, deposit cholesterol in tissues and organs.
Monitoring and maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol is important for staying healthy. The body produces the cholesterol needed to work properly, but the source for some cholesterol is diet. If an individual has an inherited predisposition for high cholesterol levels or eats too much of the foods that are high in saturated fats and trans unsaturated fats (trans fats), then the level of cholesterol in that person's blood may increase and have a negative impact on the person's health. The extra cholesterol in the blood may be deposited in plaques on the walls of blood vessels. Plaques can narrow or eventually block the opening of blood vessels, leading to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and increased risk of numerous health problems, including heart disease and stroke.
Blood Cholesterol; Total Cholesterol
Heart Disesse; Obesity; Hypertension; Diabetes; Stroke; Chronic Renal Failure; Renal Transplantation; Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; Angina;
Sr. Cholesterol is tested to screen for risk of developing heart disease; to monitor effectiveness of lipid-lowering therapy. Screening: as part of a regular health exam with a lipid profile when no risk factors for heart disease are present; adults should be tested once every four to six years; children, teens, and young adults should be tested once between the ages of 9 and 11 and then again between the ages of 17 and 21.
Monitoring: may be done more frequently and at regular intervals when risk factors for heart disease are present, when prior results showed high risk levels, and/or when undergoing treatment for unhealthy lipid levels.
Cholesterol testing is recommended as a screening test to be done for all adults with no risk factors for heart disease at least once every four to six years. It is frequently done in conjunction with a routine physical exam.
Cholesterol is tested at more frequent intervals (often several times per year) when a person has one or more risk factors for heart disease. Major risk factors include:
Screening for high cholesterol as part of a lipid profile is recommended for children and young adults. They should be tested once between the ages of 9 and 11 and then again between the ages of 17 and 21. Earlier and more frequent screening with a lipid profile is recommended for children and youths who are at an increased risk of developing heart disease as adults. Some of the risk factors are similar to those in adults and include a family history of heart disease or health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or being overweight. When the youth's body mass index (BMI) is at or above the 85th percentile, cholesterol testing is recommended. For an obese youth (one whose BMI is at or above the 95th percentile), laboratory tests to measure cholesterol levels may be recommended every 2 years.
High-risk children should have their first cholesterol test between 2 and 8 years of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children younger than 2 years old are too young to be tested. If the initial results are not worrisome, the fasting test should be done again in three to five years.
As part of a lipid profile, total cholesterol tests may be ordered at regular intervals to evaluate the success of lipid-lowering lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, or to determine the effectiveness of drug therapy such as statins. Guidelines from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that adults taking statins have a fasting lipid profile done 4 to 12 weeks after starting therapy and then every 3 to 12 months thereafter to assure that the drug is working.