LDL cholesterol is a combination of cholesterol and protein in the blood, and its task is to transport cholesterol into tissues and vein walls. The higher the amount of LDL cholesterol, the more cholesterol accumulates in tissues. When the level increases, the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease increases. It is therefore also called “bad” cholesterol. The LDL cholesterol test is also used for assessing the efficacy of cholesterol medication.
When should LDL cholesterol be measured?
Obesity, hypertension, diabetes, low level of physical exercise, smoking, and genetic factors increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The measurement of LDL cholesterol is used in quantifying the risk, in part. The test is often included in health check-ups, and other cholesterol levels are also usually measured at the same time.
LDL cholesterol has been found to be particularly harmful for people who have already been diagnosed with coronary artery disease. LDL cholesterol is also particularly harmful for those who have had a stroke, suffer from intermittent claudication, or have type 2 diabetes.
Adults should have their cholesterol tested once every 3–5 years at the minimum. In the case of an elevated level or an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, the test should be taken more frequently.
If it is decided to treat elevated cholesterol with medicines, the cholesterol levels are usually checked 1–2 months after starting the medication. Once a suitable therapy has been found, the measurement is taken approximately once a year.
What does an LDL cholesterol test measure?
Cholesterol is important to us. It is needed in the production of cells and fluids secreted from the gallbladder. Cholesterol is also a precursor of certain hormones and vitamin D, for example. The body produces the majority of cholesterol in the liver and other tissues, meaning that only part of it comes from food.
Cholesterol resembles fat in composition, and it is not soluble in water. Therefore, it does not travel on its own in the bloodstream, but something has to carry it. This task is handled by specific transport proteins, some of which carry cholesterol into tissues and vein walls. Their level is estimated with the LDL cholesterol test.
How to interpret the LDL cholesterol test result?
Under 3.0 mmol/l, if the total risk of arterial disease is moderate Under 2.5 mmol/l, if the total risk of arterial disease is high
With regard to cholesterol, target values are used instead of regular reference values.
If LDL cholesterol levels in the blood are elevated, the condition is known as dyslipidaemia. The same term is also used for other abnormal cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol medications effectively lower the LDL cholesterol level, which should be taken into account in interpreting the test result.
As an individual cholesterol measurement, LDL cholesterol does not indicate the risk of coronary artery disease, which is one type of cardiovascular disease. The risk is best measured by the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol.
What can cause elevated levels in the LDL cholesterol?
- Elevated levels can be caused by eating saturated, or hard, fats in food.
- Metabolic syndrome
- Diseases of the liver and kidneys
- Familial hypercholesterolemia, a hereditary disease of the fat metabolism
What can cause decreased levels in the LDL cholesterol?
- Severe chronic disease
- A severe stress state of the body
- Suddenly falling ill
The most typical additional LDL cholesterol tests:
- Comprehensive picture of lipid values (2245 fS-Lipids)
- Low HDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease (2097 fS-Kol-HDL)
- The risk of coronary artery disease increases as total cholesterol increases (2095 fS-Kol)
- Triglycerides serve as an energy reserve (2770 fS-Trigly)
Terveyskirjasto health library: Kolesteroli (fP-Kol-LDL)
SYNLAB test list: cholesterol, low density lipoproteins (2099 fS-Kol-LDL, 4599 fP-Kol-LDL)
Nykopp J. Kolesteroliarvo kertoo elintavoistasi. Potilaan lääkärilehti (Patient's Medical Journal) 2015.
Fasting is not required
This examination does not require fasting