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Cholesterol/VAP

Instructions

Patients are required to fast before cholesterol blood test for the 10 to 12 hours prior to having a cholesterol blood test sample taken.  Patients are allowed to drink water during their fast and may take their normal medications as prescribed. Vitamins and other dietary supplements should not be taken the day of the blood test unless otherwise instructed by the doctor.

Why It Is Used

A cholesterol blood test, also known as a VAP blood test, is used to measure cholesterol levels and to aid in determining one’s risk of heart disease.  All adults should have this test done every five years, and children who have risk of high cholesterol or heart disease due to factors such as diabetes or obesity should also be tested. Testing is especially important for those who have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, are obese, are sedentary most of the time, or have been diagnosed with diabetes.  Also, men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 are at higher risk and should be tested more frequently.

How It Works

The VAP blood test assesses a number of factors.  The test gives a total cholesterol count that represents the amount of cholesterol in the blood.  The test also provides information on high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.  HDL cholesterol is often referred to as the “good” cholesterol and helps to eliminate “bad” cholesterol.  The bad cholesterol is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.  The test provides a count of the LDL cholesterol - the substance that can start to build up in the arteries and cause blockages, as well as increased risk of a heart attack.  The balance of HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in the body can help doctors to determine an individual’s cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.  High cholesterol, by itself, does not have many outward signs or symptoms, and so a cholesterol test is an important first step in determining risk. 

Results

There are many different factors that can affect the level of cholesterol in one’s blood at any given time.  If lab test results show one’s LDL cholesterol to be abnormally high or the total cholesterol in the blood is too high or too low, it is common practice for doctors to request the test be performed several more times over the next couple of months to see the fluctuation in cholesterol levels.  Treatment is often started only after cholesterol levels are shown to be consistently out of normal range. 

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