What is Lipid Profile?

Lipid profile, also known as lipid panel, is a combination of blood tests that help in mapping the quantities of lipids, like cholesterol and triglycerides present in the bloodstream. This tests also aid in the identification of many genetic diseases along with defining the possibilities of an individual suffering from a cardiovascular disease, pancreatitis, etc. A lipid profile test is usually ordered alongside a physical examination and additional tests such as the basic metabolic panel (BMP) and complete blood count (CBC).

What are Lipids?

Lipids are simple substances that contain hydrocarbons. They, along with carbohydrates, protein, and nucleic acid, make for the four most biologically essential components required by the body for carrying out its day to day functions. Lipid abnormalities, such as high cholesterol levels, may result in critical disorders such as Coronary Artery Disease, cardiac arrest or stroke, etc.

A physician may recommend a lipid profile test as a part of a routine health examination to check for potential abnormalities, increase in one’s bad cholesterol level and even identify a medical problems, which can or may turn life-threatening.

Are any Pre-Test Preparations Required?

Yes! A lipid profile test demands some pre-test preparations. Upon an inidvidual’s visit to a physician’s clinic or pathology diagnostic centre, he/she will be informed about how to prepare for the test. If the physician or lab technician suggests to fast before the test, try and avoid consuming anything but fluids, for about eight to ten hours before the test procedure. Usually, pre-prescribed medicines are allowed to be taken with water before the test. Avoid eating fatty foods, drinking alcohol or exercising rigorously.

If an individual’s test reports suggest an abnormal lipid condition in the body, he/she may undergo a treatment in order to get the levels back in their normal range value. The treatment may involve medicines, diet revisions, weight control measures, and exercising.

What are the Components of a Lipid Profile Test?

A Lipid Profile test measures the quantities of the following components:-

  • Total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio
  • serum Phospholipids
  • serum HDL cholesterol
  • Serum total cholesterol
  • Serum triglycerides
  • Total lipids
  • Electrophoretic fractionation determines the percentage of
    • Low-Density Lipoprotein – LDL
    • Chylomicrons
    • Very Low-Density Lipoprotein – VLDL
    • High-Density Lipoprotein – HDL

Each of these components have their own set of normal range values, which are essential to maintain. Refer to the values mentioned-below.

Please note, different pathology diagnostic centres make use of different measuring techniques and hence, values can vary. The best way to rest assured is by allowing a physician to define the exact meaning of the reports churned out by the pathology technicians.

What are Common Range Values?

LDL Cholesterol

  • Normal: Below or equal to 100 mg/dL (2.59 mmol/L); for people with known disease (diabetes or ASCVD), below 70 mg/dL (1.81 mmol/L) is considered ideal
  • Near/above optimal: 100-129 mg/dL (2.59-3.34 mmol/L)
  • Marginal high: Between 130 and 159 mg/dL (3.37-4.12 mmol/L)
  • High: Between 160 and 189 mg/dL (4.15-4.90 mmol/L)
  • Dangerously high: More than 190 mg/dL (4.90 mmol/L)

Total Cholesterol

  • Optimal: below 200 mg/dL (5.18 mmol/L)
  • Marginal high: 200-239 mg/dL (5.18 to 6.18 mmol/L)
  • Very High: 240 mg/dL (6.22 mmol/L) or higher

HDL Cholesterol

  • Low HDL level, high risk: below 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L) in male and below 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in female
  • At par level, normal risk: between 40 to 50 mg/dL (1.0-1.3 mmol/L) in male and from 50 to 59 mg/dl (1.3-1.5 mmol/L) in female
  • High level, below average risk: 60 mg/dL (1.55 mmol/L) or more in both male and female

Fasting Triglycerides

  • Normal: below 150 mg/dL (1.70 mmol/L)
  • Marginal: Between150 to 199 mg/dL(1.7-2.2 mmol/L)
  • High: Between 200 and 499 mg/dL (2.3-5.6 mmol/L)
  • Risky high: above 500 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L)

Non-HDL Cholesterol

  • Desirable: Below 130 mg/dL (3.37 mmol/L)
  • Near/over desirable: Between 130 and 159 mg/dL (3.37-4.12mmol/L)
  • Marginal high: Between 160 and 189 mg/dL (4.15-4.90 mmol/L)
  • High: Between 190 and 219 mg/dL (4.9-5.7 mmol/L)
  • Risky high: More than 220 mg/dL (5.7 mmol/L)

Abnormally high or low levels of lipids and/or existence of other threatening factors such as age, genetic history, smoking, diabetes, and high BP, indicate that the individual tested needs to undergo a treatment immediately.

The NCEP Adult Treatment Panel III employs the outcomes of lipid tests and the above danger factors to define desirable LDL cholesterol proportion. According to these standards, if an individual has an LDL-C level above the desired proportion, he/she needs to get treated without wasting any time.

The desired LDL-C level is:

  • Below 100 mg/dL (2.59 mmol/L) if the individual has diabetes or any heart related disease [and normally below 70 mg/dL (1.81 mmol/L)]
  • Below 130 mg/dL (3.37 mmol/L) if the individual has two or more threat factors
  • Below 160 mg/dL (4.14 mmol/L) if the individual has zero or one threat factor

A proper fasting lipid profile test is suggested for measuring youths who indicate risk factors of developing any heart-related disease, based on the guidelines by American Academy of Paediatrics. Fasting lipid test in kids without risk factors is not required. Non-High-Density Lipoprotein (non-HDL-C) Cholesterol is the preferred profile for non-fasting lipid testing. Non-HDL-C is measured by measuring total cholesterol level & HDL-C, then checking the difference between both the profiles.

Other tests recommended alongside a lipid profile are as follows:-

  • Very Low-Density Lipoprotein Level (VLDL)
  • The LDL to HDL ratio
  • The total cholesterol to HDL ratio

What do Examinations Claim?

When there is no risk factor involved:

  • for grown-ups, once every 4 to 6 years;
  • for youths, one test between the age of 9 years & 11 years and another test between the age of 17 years and 21 years.


Testing is important. It must be conducted from time to time

  • when the risk factors showcase their existence in the body,
  • when prior screenings showed very high-risk levels, or
  • to check the potency of treatment

Summarizing the post above, a lipid profile test is typically associated with the abnormal levels of cholesterol components present in the bloodstream. While high cholesterol is quite manageable in nature, its best to get a proper treatment plan formulated from a physician to maintain the right levels. The more proactive a person, the better are his/her chances of steering away from related chronic diseases.


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