Cardiovascular disease refers to several health conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. These conditions include heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and arrhythmia. One way your physician can establish the general health of your cardiovascular system is to conduct a lipid panel test.
Generally, your doctor will perform a lipid panel blood test to check the levels of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in your blood. The test also helps your doctor to establish your risk factors for heart disease. The results help to guide your doctor in prescribing the appropriate medications to prevent or cure cardiovascular diseases.
Cholesterol High-Density Lipoprotein is one of two types of cholesterol. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because it removes excess cholesterol from the bloodstream. It takes the excess cholesterol in the liver. The liver breaks down the cholesterol and removes it from the body.
People with high levels of HDL tend to have a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. Exercise, eating a healthy diet, and taking certain cholesterol medications can increase the HDL levels in the body.
Low-Density Lipoprotein is the second type of cholesterol. LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol because it can create fatty deposits in the arteries. Fatty deposits that LDL cholesterol creates in the arteries can cause heart attacks and strokes if there is not enough HDL to remove the LDL from the blood. LDL is the primary target of cholesterol-lowering medications.
Monitoring your HDL and LDL cholesterol levels is necessary for maintaining good cardiovascular health. There is another type of fat that circulates throughout your bloodstream. It is just as important to monitor as HDL and LDL cholesterol.
Triglycerides are fat that can be just as damaging to your cardiovascular system and LDL cholesterol. Your body uses the calories you eat for energy, but your body can only process a limited number of calories. Any excess calories turn into triglycerides in the blood and are stored in your fatty tissue. Your body may release triglycerides into the body in between meals to give you energy. If you are eating more calories than your body can burn, then you may develop cardiovascular disease.
Triglycerides can cause the hardening of artery walls that lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular issues. High triglyceride levels can also indicate other health conditions like Type 2 diabetes, low thyroid hormones, and rare genetic diseases that restrict your body’s ability to convert fat to energy. Certain medications, steroids, and beta-blockers can also cause high triglyceride levels. Avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates, exercising regularly, and eating healthy can lower your triglyceride levels.
Lipid Panel Test – Screening
There are different reasons why your doctor will order a lipid panel test. One reason is to screen your cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health before problems occur. A screening may only happen once every five years if you do not have a family history of cardiovascular disease or any other pre-existing conditions. If you are at a higher risk factor, then your doctor may order a screening every year. Your doctor will look at your test history and perform a lipid panel screening to determine future treatments.
Lipid Panel Test – Monitoring
Your doctor may use a lipid panel test to monitor health if you had a previous test with a high cholesterol reading or you are dealing with cardiovascular problems. They can use this test to see if your lifestyle changes are improving your cardiovascular health. Your doctor can also see if the medications they prescribed are working or if they need to change your medications.
Lipid Panel Test – Diagnosis
Lipid panel tests are primarily used for screening and monitoring cardiovascular health. Sometimes this test is used to make a diagnosis. This test can help your doctor diagnose other health problems like chronic kidney disease or hypothyroidism that can affect your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Depending on your lipid panel test result, you may be advised to take steps to improve your diet, including eating fewer fatty foods and adding more high-fiber foods. If you find that your test results show you have very high LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, then your only option may be to take cholesterol medications. Medications can help, but you also need to make lifestyle and dietary changes to improve your cardiovascular health.
If you have any questions about lipid panel tests, please contact us today at 205-352-9141. We are happy to answer any of your questions.