Primus Pathology Laboratory

HDL Cholesterol test

Last Updated on July 25, 2022 by Dr. Neeraj Gujar

HDL Cholesterol test Overview

The HDL Cholesterol test, which measures your blood’s good cholesterol, is a high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Cholesterol, a waxy substance found in all cells of your body, is measured by a high-density lipoprotein (HDL) test. Cholesterol has many functions. It helps to build cells in your body. Cholesterol is transported through the bloodstream as a protein called lipoproteins.

There are two types of cholesterol found in your body: HDL, which is good cholesterol, and LDL, or bad cholesterol. HDL, also known as the “good cholesterol”, is responsible for carrying LDL, Triglycerides, and other harmful fats to your liver. The liver converts LDL into bile and breaks down HDL when it reaches its liver.

LDL cholesterol is the majority in the body. LDL cholesterol is bad because it can cause plaque buildup in the arteries. This can lead to heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that people with high HDL cholesterol are less likely to develop coronary artery disease. A simple test can be used by your doctor to check your cholesterol.

Why Test Is Done?

The HDL Cholesterol test can also be known as the HDL-C test. This is one of many tests your doctor may use to test your cholesterol levels. The complete set of tests is called a complete cholesterol test or a panel. This group of tests is used by doctors to assess the risk of developing heart diseases.

The HDL test specifically measures the amount of HDL in the blood. An HDL test may also be ordered as a follow-up test if you have high results on your cholesterol-screening test.

According to the American Heart Association, all adults over 20 should have their cholesterol tested every four to six-year. As part of your regular checkup, your doctor may order an HDL test.

For people at high risk of heart disease, doctors may conduct the test regularly. Some of the factors include –

  • Having diabetes
  • Having a family history of heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Men over 45 years old
  • Women over 55 years old
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Using tobacco
  • Have had a heart attack or heart disease

The test may be ordered by your doctor to assess the effectiveness of treatment or to determine if lifestyle changes like exercise or quitting smoking are effective in lowering cholesterol levels.

Also Read: Should you get a Lipid Profile Test? Answers to your Why

When To Get Tested?

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends that a person should have their first cholesterol screening between the ages of 9 and 11. This should be followed by a second screening every five years.

The NHLBI recommends cholesterol screenings every 1 to 2 years for both men and women between the ages of 45 and 65. Over 65-year-olds should have their cholesterol tested annually.

You may need to be tested more often if your first test result was abnormal, you are taking a cholesterol-lowering medication, or you have a higher risk of developing coronary artery diseases (e.g., if you take cholesterol-lowering drugs). Some of the reasons may include –

  • Parent with a history of heart attacks or high cholesterol
  • Overweight
  • Physically inactive
  • Diabetic
  • Eat an unhealthy diet
  • Smoke Cigarettes

High cholesterol patients who are undergoing treatment need to have their cholesterol tested regularly to ensure that the treatments are working.

How To Get Tested?

You will be given detailed instructions by your doctor on how to prepare for the test. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications or fast for up 12 hours before the test.

An HDL Cholesterol test should not be performed if you are ill. Temporarily lower cholesterol levels can be seen in acute illnesses, after a heart attack, or during stressful events such as surgery or accidents. Before you get your cholesterol measured, it is recommended to wait at least six weeks following any illness. Women’s HDL cholesterol may also fluctuate during pregnancy. Before your HDL cholesterol is measured, you should wait at most six weeks after giving birth.

Also Read: Important Medical Tests for People Above 50

During the Test

The HDL Cholesterol test takes only a few minutes and is relatively painless. A healthcare provider will take a sample of blood using a needle. The needle will sting where the sample is being taken. A small needle, called a lancet, is sufficient for some tests such as home testing.

Once they have drawn enough blood, they will seal the bottle and send the sample to a laboratory. You may feel lightheaded or woozy after the blood draw. They’ll send it to a laboratory for testing.

After The Test

An HDL test requires a simple, routine blood draw. This rarely causes any serious issues. The risks of giving a blood sample include:

  • Bleeding under the skin, or a hematoma
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fainting

Test Results

The optimal levels of HDL cholesterol are more than 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). HDL levels below 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women are indicative of a higher risk for heart disease.

HDL (Good) Cholesterol LevelHDL Cholesterol Category
60 mg/dL and higherConsidered protective against heart disease
40-59 mg/dLThe higher, the better
Less than 40 mg/dLA major risk factor for heart disease

High HDL Cholesterol can be a sign of a healthy lifestyle. Regular cholesterol testing is important, especially if you are at risk for developing heart disease.

Also Read: Do You Need to Be Concerned If Your Hemoglobin Isn’t Normal?


What does a high HDL cholesterol level mean in a blood test?

When it comes to HDL cholesterol, high numbers are usually good for you. HDL is the “good” type of cholesterol that sweeps the “bad” artery-clogging LDL cholesterol out of your blood vessels and to your liver. Your liver then breaks it down and removes it from your body.

What foods are high in HDL?

Antioxidant-rich foods like nuts, berries, fish with omega-3 fats, and Niacin-rich foods like mushrooms help in boosting HDL levels.

Does coffee raise cholesterol?

It is seen that brewed coffee has no actual cholesterol. Although, it does have two natural oils i.e., cafestol and kahweol that raises cholesterol levels. And studies have shown that older coffee drinkers have higher levels of cholesterol.

by Dr. Neeraj Gujar

Dr. Neeraj Gujar has done his M.D. in Pathology from Government Medical College. He has worked at various organisations such as Breach Candy Hospital and Tata Memorial Hospital along with many other private organisations. During his working career, he realised the pressing need for exceptional quality diagnostic services. A diagnostic centre that can consistently give accurate results verified by a consultant doctor (M.D. Pathologist) on which your doctor can depend. This has been the founding principle of Primus Pathology and Diagnostics.

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