An invaluable resource of health information.
Coronary risk profile
A coronary risk profile is a battery of blood tests to measure your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The profile can help determine your risk for heart disease.
- Alternative Names
Lipoprotein/cholesterol analysis; Lipid profile; Hyperlipidemia - testing
- How the test is performed
Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.
Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
The blood is sent to a laboratory, where the following are measured:
- Low density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad" cholesterol)
- High density lipoprotein (HDL or "good" cholesterol
- Total cholesterol
- Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL cholesterol)
Additional blood tests, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), may be added to the profile in some laboratories.
- How to prepare for the test
You should not eat or drink anything except water for 9 - 12 hours before having your blood drawn.
- How the test will feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
- Why the test is performed
- The first screening test is performed between ages 20 - 35 in men, and ages 20 - 45 in women.
- Follow-up screening is done within 1 - 5 years, depending on the results.
- Screening is performed for anyone who develops diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or another illness caused by atherosclerosis.
- Follow-up testing is done to determine how well diet and medications are controlling high cholesterol.
- The first screening test is done as early as age 2 and no later than age 10 in children with risk factors, such as a family history of high cholesterol or early heart disease (a history of heart attacks before age 55 in men, and before age 65 in women).
- A first screening test is done in children who are obese (above the 85th percentile for weight) or who have diabetes.
- Follow-up testing is done in 3 - 5 years if the child's cholesterol level tests normal.
- Normal Values
The ideal values are different for people without coronary artery disease or other risk factors than for those with known coronary artery disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
- LDL: 70 - 130 mg/dL (lower numbers are desired)
- HDL: greater than 40 - 60 mg/dL (higher numbers are desired)
- Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL (lower numbers are desired)
- Triglycerides: 10 - 150 mg/dL (lower numbers are desired)
- VLDL: 2 - 38 mg/dL
Note: mg/dL = milligrams per deciliter
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
- What abnormal results mean
Abnormal values may be a sign that you are at increased risk for atherosclerosis and related disorders, including:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Poor blood supply to the legs
- What the risks are
Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Gaziano M, Manson JE, Ridker PM. Primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 45.
Daniels SR, Greer FR; Committee on Nutrition. Lipid screening and cardiovascular health in childhood. Pediatrics. 2008;122:198-208.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for lipid disorders in children: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Pediatrics. 2007;120:e215-219.
Review Date: 5/2/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.