Cholesterol is a soft, wax-like substance found in all parts of the body. Your body needs a small amount of cholesterol. Too much cholesterol can clog your arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke, and other problems.
Some types of cholesterol are considered "good" and some are considered "bad." Different blood tests are used to measure each type.
A coronary risk profile is a group of blood tests that measure your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The profile can help determine your risk for heart disease.
A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.
You may only have your total cholesterol level measured as the first test. This may include measurement of your HDL cholesterol levels. You may not need more cholesterol tests if your cholesterol is in the normal range.
You may also have a lipid (or coronary risk) profile, which includes:
Low density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad" cholesterol)
High density lipoprotein (HDL or "good" cholesterol)
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Stone NJ, Robinson J, Lichtenstein AH, Bairey Merz N, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al. 2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults. JACC. In press.
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes -- 2014. Diabetes Care. 2014;37 Suppl 1:S14-S80.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update: 05/14/14