A lipid panel is a blood test that measures lipids—fats and fatty substances used as a source of energy by your body. Lipids include cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
This panel measures:
- Total cholesterol level.
- Triglyceride level.
- HDL cholesterol level. This is the "good" cholesterol.
- LDL cholesterol level. This is the "bad" cholesterol.
Other measurements that may be done for a lipid panel include:
- Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol level.
- The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL.
- The ratio of LDL to HDL.
Lipids are found in your blood and are stored in tissues. They are an important part of cells, and they help keep your body working normally. Lipid disorders, such as high cholesterol, may lead to life-threatening illnesses, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, or stroke.
Your doctor may order a lipid panel as part of a regular health examination. Your doctor may use the results of this test to prevent, check on, or diagnose a medical condition.
Follow your doctor's instructions on how to prepare for this test. If your doctor tells you to fast before your test, do not eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before having your blood drawn. Usually, you are allowed to take your medicines with water the morning of the test. Fasting is not always necessary, but it may be recommended. Do not eat high-fat foods the night before the test. Do not drink alcohol or exercise strenuously before the test.
If your doctor finds a lipid disorder, treatment may be started to help lower your blood lipid levels. Your treatment could include medicines, diet changes, weight loss, and exercise.
To learn more, see the topic Cholesterol and Triglyceride Tests.