What is a Lipid Panel?

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A lipid panel is a common blood test that healthcare providers use to monitor and screen for your risk of cardiovascular disease.


Why do I need a lipid panel blood test?

There are several reasons why you may need a lipid panel blood test. Healthcare providers use lipid panels often for screen and monitoring purposes.

If you have one or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your provider may suggest frequent screening through the use of a lipid panel to try to catch elevated cholesterol levels before you have symptoms. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:

  • If you’re a man over the age of 45 or if you’re a women over the age of 50.
  • Having a high cholesterol.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Obesity.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Having high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Having diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Having a relative, such as a parent or sibling, who developed heart disease at an early age (under 55 in males and under 65 in females).

It’s also possible for children to have high cholesterol, so your child may need a lipid panel blood test. Cholesterol levels in children are linked to three factors: heredity, diet and obesity. In most cases, kids with high cholesterol have a parent who also has elevated cholesterol.

While providers mostly use lipid panels for screening or monitoring cholesterol levels, providers sometimes use them as part of the diagnostic process for certain health conditions that can affect your lipid levels, including:

  • Pancreatitis.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Hypothyroidism.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of any of these conditions, your provider may have you undergo a lipid panel blood test.

What is a lipid panel used for?

Healthcare providers use lipid panels to help assess a person’s cardiovascular health by analyzing cholesterol in their blood.

Reasons a provider may order a lipid panel include:

  • To determine if your cholesterol level is normal or falls into a borderline-, intermediate- or high-risk category.
  • To monitor your cholesterol level if you had abnormal results on a previous test or if you have other risk factors for heart disease.
  • To monitor your body’s response to treatment.
  • To help diagnose medical conditions, such as liver disease.

What are the five tests in a lipid panel?

A lipid panel measures five different types of lipids from a blood sample, including:

  • Total cholesterol: This is your overall cholesterol level — the combination of LDL-C, VLDL-C and HDL-C.
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: This is the type of cholesterol that’s known as “bad cholesterol.” It can collect in your blood vessels and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol: This is a type of cholesterol that’s usually present in very low amounts when the blood sample is a fasting samples since it’s mostly comes from food you’ve recently eaten. An increase in this type of cholesterol in a fasting sample may be a sign of abnormal lipid metabolism.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: This is the type of cholesterol that’s known as “good cholesterol.” It helps decrease the buildup of LDL in your blood vessels.
  • Triglycerides: This is a type of fat from the food we eat. Excess amounts of triglycerides in your blood are associated with cardiovascular disease and pancreatic inflammation.


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  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP). (https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/comprehensive-metabolic-panel-cmp/) Accessed 11/9/2021.
  • Lab Tests Online. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP). (https://labtestsonline.org/tests/comprehensive-metabolic-panel-cmp) Accessed 11/9/2021.

Jack Towers

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