A lipid panel is a blood test used to measure the level of cholesterol, fat and other substances, known as lipids, in the body. This test determines a patient's risk for coronary artery disease or other vascular diseases affected by cholesterol and triglycerides. Although these substances occur naturally in the body, too many lipids can increase the risk for heart problems.
The lipid panel test measures the following:
- Total cholesterol level
- Triglyceride level
- HDL cholesterol level
- LDL cholesterol level
A lipid panel is recommended once every five years for all adults age 20 and older. The test is especially important for patients if there is a family history of heart disease, they are overweight or have diabetes, which can increase their risk for heart problems. For the most accurate results, the blood sample should be collected after a 12 hour fast. A lipid panel takes just a few minutes with minimal discomfort.