Cholesterol Tests


Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is similar to fat. There are different types of cholesterol including:

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol

Cholesterol tests measure the levels of cholesterol in the blood. They can measure the amount of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and your total cholesterol levels. A test called the lipid profile test may be used. This test measures the cholesterol levels plus triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat or lipid in the blood.

Reasons for Test

This test is done to measure the levels of cholesterol in the blood. Abnormal levels of cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of plaque formation in blood vessels. This plaque formation can lead to heart attacks or strokes . The results will be used to estimate your risk of heart disease. For example:

  • High LDL levels increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Low HDL levels increase the risk of heart disease.
Plaque Formation in Blood Vessel—Side Effect of High LDL Cholesterol
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Possible Complications

There are no major complications associated with this test.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

Steps to take before the test depend on the test you are having. For example:

  • Fasting lipid profile—You will need to stop eating or drinking 9-12 hours before the test. Water is allowed during this time.
  • Total cholesterol test and total cholesterol test with HDL measurement—You do not need to fast.

Description of Test

You will be asked to sit. An area inside your elbow will be cleaned with an antiseptic wipe. A large band will be tied around your arm. The needle will then be inserted into a vein. A tube will collect the blood from the needle. The band on your arm will be removed. Once all the blood is collected, the needle will be removed. Some gauze will be placed over the site to help stop bleeding. You may also be given a bandage to place over the site. The process takes about 5-10 minutes.

After Test

After the blood sample is collected, you may need to stay seated for 10-15 minutes. If you are lightheaded, you may need to stay seated longer. When you feel better, you can leave.

In some cases, a bit of blood may ooze from the vein beneath the skin and cause a bruise. The risk of bruising can be minimized by placing firm pressure over the puncture site. A bruise will usually resolve in a day or two.

How Long Will It Take?

A few minutes

Will It Hurt?

It may hurt slightly when the needle is inserted.


Talk to your doctor about your test results. More testing may need to be done depending on your test results.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • You have increased redness, pain, or discharge from the blood test site.
  • You have severe bruising or swelling.

In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


Please note, not all procedures included in this resource library are available at Allegiance Health or performed by Allegiance Health physicians.

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Swelling, pain, redness and increased warmth in a leg may be warning signs of a life-threatening deep vein blood clot. If you have these symptoms, call your family physician or go directly to the Emergency Department.