Kauvery Hospital | Patient Newsletters | What does your lipid profile tell about your health

A lipid profile is a very simple blood test that estimates the level of fat in your body. It is done by drawing blood from your forearm and subjecting it to testing. Although the test is simple, most of you are likely to find the medical terms involved overwhelming. In this article an attempt is made to decode these terms and make it easy for a layman to understand them.

A lipid profile is a laboratory test that is carried out to estimate the levels of lipids such as triglycerides, bad cholesterol, good cholesterol, VLDL and HDL in the blood. Cholesterol is a type of insoluble fat that is produced by the liver and is necessary for the proper functioning of the body. When your cholesterol levels are optimal, blood flows freely through the arteries and veins of your body.

However, when the level of cholesterol is high, it forms plaques along the sides of the blood vessels thereby constricting it and making blood flow difficult. This leads to chest pain, high BP, heart attack, strokes and peripheral vascular diseases.

LDL, HDL and VLDL are lipoproteins that help in the transportation of cholesterol. Since cholesterol is a fat that is insoluble in blood, it requires carrier molecules that ferry it around and transport it to target organs. This is where low density lipoprotein (LDL) High density lipoprotein (HDL) and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) come in handy as these help in the transportation of cholesterol.

HDL is 'good' cholesterol because it eliminates excessive cholesterol present in the body by transporting it to the liver where it is excreted. LDL is 'bad' cholesterol as it does exactly the opposite; it adds to your blood cholesterol levels by carrying it away from the liver, resulting in plaque formation and heart disease. LDL is formed from very low density lipoprotein or VLDL. Ideally you must have more of HDL and less of LDL.

The excess fat in your body is stored as triglycerides and these are broken down to generate energy when you fast. Triglycerides combine with cholesterol to form plasma lipids which get deposited along the blood vessels. In excess, triglycerides can be very harmful to heart and liver health.

This simple profiling that is done to measure your lipid levels can help you to evaluate your health and take precautionary action against any health condition that you may be at risk for. The test is done in the morning, after fasting for a minimum of 8-12 hours overnight.

If your lipid profile shows values that are 'borderline' or above, you need to exercise caution, although there is no reason for you to panic. You may need to modify your diet and alter your lifestyle. This would mean low-fat, high fiber diet, adequate exercise and weight control.

Some of the foods that can help you control cholesterol are olive oil, fish such as mackerel, nuts such as walnuts and almonds, oats and garlic. You can control cholesterol by avoiding fatty fried foods, pastries, bread, biscuits, red meat and egg yolk.

Moderate exercises may not help and you may need to walk for forty five minutes at least, every day, besides doing other forms of cardio exercises. Try to incorporate more activity into your daily life like walking more than you usually do, using the stairs or doing your house hold chores.

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