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Lipid Panel Test

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KEY POINTS

  • The lipid panel test is a blood test to measure different types of fat in the blood. It can help diagnose high cholesterol or triglycerides or check how well treatment is working.
  • A small amount of blood is taken from a finger with a fingerstick or from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle and sent to a lab.
  • Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about what the test results mean and ask any questions you have.

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What is the lipid panel test?

This blood test measures different types of cholesterol and triglycerides, which are types of fat in the blood.

Your child’s body makes some cholesterol and gets the rest from foods such as meats, eggs, and milk products. Your child needs cholesterol to make hormones and to build and keep healthy cells. Triglycerides are used by the body for energy. However, too much of these fats in your child’s blood can cause problems that increase the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Another name for this test is lipid profile.

Why is this test done?

Because abnormal levels of lipids do not cause symptoms for years, you may not know that your child’s cholesterol level is high. If this test shows that your child has high cholesterol, you can start treatment to lower it and decrease your child’s chances of heart disease. Your child is at high risk of heart disease if:

  • Your child is overweight.
  • Your child has high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Your child smokes cigarettes.
  • Early heart disease or high cholesterol runs in your family.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for cholesterol between the ages of 9 and 11, and again between the ages of 17 and 21. Other professional organizations do not recommend screening for lipid disorders in every child and teen 20 years or younger. Talk with your child’s health care provider about what is recommended for your child based on risk.

If your child is working to improve cholesterol levels by eating a variety of healthy food, being more physically active, or taking medicine, this test can help show how well the lifestyle choices and treatment are working.

How do I prepare my child for this test?

It is best for your child to wait at least 2 months after a severe infection, surgery, injury, or pregnancy to have this test.

  • Your child should avoid eating fatty foods the evening before the test.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when your child should stop eating and drinking before the test. Food and drink before the test may affect the results.
  • Your child may need to avoid taking certain medicines before the test because they might affect the test result. Make sure your child’s healthcare provider knows about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that your child is taking. Ask your provider before stopping any of your child’s regular medicines.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about the test.

How is the test done?

A small amount of blood is taken from a finger with a fingerstick or from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.

Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your child’s test.

What do the test results mean?

Total cholesterol: Your child’s total cholesterol should be less than 170 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

LDL cholesterol: LDL cholesterol leaves behind fatty deposits on artery walls and contributes to heart disease. LDL is called bad cholesterol. Think of "L" for "lousy" cholesterol. Your child’s LDL cholesterol should be less than 110 mg/dL.

HDL cholesterol: HDL cleans the artery walls, removes extra cholesterol from the body, and lowers the risk of heart disease. HDL is called good cholesterol. Because HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease, higher numbers are better. Your child’s HDL cholesterol should be greater than 35 mg/dL.

Triglycerides: Generally, it’s good for your child to have a triglyceride level lower than 125 mg/dL. Triglycerides higher than this may increase your child’s risk of health problems, including heart disease.

Your child’s LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, or total cholesterol levels may be high or your child’s HDL cholesterol level may be low because:

  • Your child has inherited a tendency to have high cholesterol.
  • Your child does not get enough physical activity.
  • Your child eat too much saturated and trans fat. Saturated fats are found in butter, whole milk, red meat, and some fried fast food. Trans fats are found in some fried fast foods and many processed foods, especially baked goods such as cookies and crackers.
  • Your child is overweight.

What if my child’s test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about the result and ask questions such as:

  • If your child needs more tests
  • What kind of treatment your child might need
  • What lifestyle, food choices, or other changes your child may need to make
Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-04-16
Last reviewed: 2018-01-25
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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