An HDL cholesterol test or a high density lipoprotein cholesterol test may be recommended to determine your risk of developing heart disease. A HDL cholesterol test may be used with other cholesterol levels tests to monitor treatment for high cholesterol levels or if earlier test results have shown that you are at risk for heart disease. An HDL cholesterol test will be done along with an overall lipid profile test where low density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides are also measured. Remember that HDL is also known as “good cholesterol”. Lipoproteins are made up of proteins and fat. They carry triglycerides, cholesterol and other fats (known as lipids) that are present in the blood to the various parts of the body. A blood sample is needed for a HDL cholesterol test. The test is fairly simple and the procedure is given below.
Blood is generally drawn from a vein, either at the back of the hand or from the inside of the elbow. An elastic band is wrapped around the upper arm. The elastic band applies pressure to the arm and helps the vein to swell with blood. A needle is then inserted into your arm and the blood drawn goes directly into a tube that is attached to the needle. After the blood has been collected the needle is removed and the band is taken off your arm. Preparation for an HDL cholesterol test involves not eating or drinking for 9-12 hours beforehand. There are very few risks that are associated with a HDL cholesterol test. However, these may include- fainting, feeling lightheaded, excessive bleeding or infection at the site of the puncture.
HDL cholesterol test results can be interpreted as follows:-
Normal results: The typical level for HDL for men is between 40-50 mg/dL and 50-59 mg/dL for women. This level is generally associated with an average risk of heart disease.
Abnormal results: An HDL level of less than 40 mg/dl puts you are risk for heart disease and even a heart attack.
You may consider testing your HDL levels at home by using a HDL cholesterol test kit. Although there are many such kits available on the market today, keep in mind that a home test kit may not be as accurate as a test carried out in a laboratory. Managing your cholesterol means more than just testing it at home. Your doctor is the best person to help you figure out how to manage your cholesterol levels.