CHD Risk, Estimated
Cholesterol, Total (TC)
Cholesterol is different from most tests in that it is not used to diagnose or monitor a disease, but is used to estimate the risk of developing a disease — specifically heart disease. Because high blood cholesterol has been associated with hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart disease, and a raised risk of death from heart attacks, cholesterol testing is considered a routine part of preventive health care.
HDL ("Good" Cholesterol)
The test for HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) is used along with other lipid tests to screen for unhealthy levels of lipids and to determine your risk of developing heart disease. Your HDL-C level may also be monitored by your doctor on a regular basis if previous test results have shown an increased risk for heart disease or if you have had a heart attack or if you are undergoing treatment for high cholesterol levels.
LDL ("Bad" Cholesterol)
The test for LDL cholesterol is used to predict your risk of developing heart disease. Of all the forms of cholesterol in the blood, the LDL cholesterol is considered the most important form in determining risk of heart disease. Since treatment decisions are often based on LDL values, this test may be used to monitor levels after the start of diet or exercise programs or to determine whether or not prescribing one of the lipid-lowering drugs would be useful.
Blood tests for triglycerides are usually part of a lipid profile used to identify the risk of developing heart disease. As part of a lipid profile, it may be used to monitor those who have risk factors for heart disease, those who have had a heart attack, or those who are being treated for high lipid and/or triglyceride levels. If you are diabetic, it is especially important to have triglycerides measured as part of any lipid testing since triglycerides increase significantly when blood sugar levels are not well-controlled.
Very low density lipoprotein cholesterol may be reported as part of a lipid profile, a group of tests that are often ordered together to determine the risk of coronary heart disease and an important part of cardiac risk assessments. Increased levels of VLDL cholesterol are thought to reflect the presence of particles called lipoprotein remnants that are intermediate particles on the pathway of conversion of VLDL to LDL. When high levels of VLDL are present, the conversion of VLDL to LDL is slowed and the accumulation of intermediate particles is thought to contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.