A lipid panel blood test measures the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. It is also called a cholesterol test or lipid profile. Doctors order lipid panels to check for heart disease and artherosclerosis, which is also called hardening of the arteries, according to information from the University of Michigan Health System.
How It Is Done
A medical professional will draw a small amount of blood from the patient into several tubes, which are sent to a laboratory for testing.
A blood lipid test measures the levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol in the blood as well as triglycerides. These results can help doctors determine patients' health status.
In general, people who have high levels of total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides--yet low levels of HDL--have an increased risk for heart disease and artherosclerosis, according to information from the University of Maryland Health System. Conversely, people with low levels of total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides, and high levels of HDL have a decreased risk.
How to Prepare for the Test
Patients having a blood lipid test done should fast for nine to 12 hours prior to the test, according to information from the Mayo Clinic. They may drink water but cannot have any other food or beverage--including alcohol, coffee and tea.
The hormone estrogen can cause women to have higher levels of HDL cholesterol, which is good, but also of triglycerides, according to information from the Mayo Clinic. If a woman's triglycerides are higher than normal, a doctor may decide that she would benefit from cholesterol-lowering drugs.