A lipid panel test is standard blood work that a physician will order during a yearly or six month physical. The panel is a blood test that measures fats and fatty substances in the bloodstream, providing a snapshot of risks for various ailments such as heart disease and stroke. The test will measure total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides. The lipid test is a test that requires a twelve hour fast so that a true reading can be taken. If anything is ingested except water, the blood test will need to be postponed. The panel is a test that is typically covered by most health insurance plans.
This is not a test that is usually ordered for children and teens, and for those who have normal readings, the panel is a test that will probably be ordered every three to five years until there is indication of elevated levels. A lipid panel test measures the good and bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. Cholesterol is a waxy alcohol substance that is found in the cell membranes and transported in the blood plasma of all animals. Cholesterol is a part of being healthy because cholesterol is used to form cell membranes but a heightened level can spell trouble for the heart because it clogs blood vessels. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, these are the things which defile a man…” (Matthew 15: 19, 20a)
There are actually two types of cholesterol measured by that concern your doctor: high and low density blood cholesterol. High density (HDL) makes up about one third of all cholesterol and high density cholesterol is what is known as the good stuff. The medical community thinks that HDL helps carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver where it is then disposed from the body. Doctors want to see from the lipid panel test high levels of the good stuff and when it is low, there are higher risks for heart and stroke issues. Your doctor will probably want to see higher than 50 mg/dl of HDL.
It is the LDL or low density stuff that is the real culprit and the thing that concerns a doctor. Over time the LDL can build up on the artery walls constricting blood flow that can lead to a heart attack. The other serious result of high cholesterol can be a stroke, which can lead to devastating consequences such a limb paralysis, the inability to speak, blindness or even total immobility. The lipid panel test will probably be administered at least once a year for those who are prescribed cholesterol lowering medications to observe their effectiveness. When high cholesterol findings are made with the lipid panel test the physician will prescribe a low fat diet and want to see the patient get more exercise in order to help lower the LDL readings.
Almost forty million Americans are on cholesterol lowering medicines. Along with the medicine a diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables is highly recommended while staying form whole fat dairy products and highly fatty meat such as all red meats. Fried and processed foods, which if ingested regularly will certainly show up as high LDL numbers on a lipid panel test need to be avoided. Foods that can naturally fight cholesterol are legumes, nuts and seeds. Using butter substitutes, eating oatmeal regularly and consuming whole oat cereals have also been shown to help in the fight against high LDL levels. Medical experts recommend those who enjoy eating meat should stay with fish, white meat chicken and white meat turkey.
A regular exercise program can also help to lower high cholesterol readings that might show up in a lipid panel test. Many fitness experts say that a two mile walk everyday can help to substantially lower high cholesterol levels of LDL. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, using a walking lawn mower instead of a riding mower and many other daily choices can help a person lower their bad cholesterol readings substantially over time. Fighting the onset of heart disease is a never ending battle for those over the age of forty five and especially for those who have naturally high levels of cholesterol. An ever vigilant stance must be taken in order to keep LDL levels at safe levels, hopefully under 160 mg.
When a lipid panel test does reveal high readings, the physician will normally prescribe cholesterol fighting drugs to aid in the battle against heart disease. There are five classes of these kinds of drugs: statins, resins, fibrates, nitrates and absorption inhibitors with the most popular class of these drugs being the statins with well known names such as Lipitor, Caduet and Zocor. These drugs work to pull cholesterol out of the blood stream and blocking cholesterol making enzymes. The other classes of drugs all work in different ways to lower the numbers that concern the physician and should concern the patient also. It is very important that those who are identified with high LDL numbers stay on their drug regimen regularly and not skip or completely ignore their responsibility to take the medicine. Family members can help the patient by encouraging the exercise, and not demanding a diet with the foods that can be harmful to the patient. A patient should stay on top of new drug introductions and talk to his or her physicians to discuss new methods for fighting this disease.