Does this test have other names?
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol
What is this test?
An HDL cholesterol test measures the amount of high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol
in your blood. High HDL levels may lower your risk for heart disease.
Why do I need this test?
You may need this test as part of a routine screening to find out your risk for heart
What other tests might I have along with this test?
An HDL test is often done as part of a comprehensive lipid panel to get a complete
picture of your cholesterol and blood fat levels. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol,
triglycerides, and very-low density lipoproteins are among the other lipids your healthcare
provider may want to measure.
What do my test results mean?
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used
for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem.
Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
The normal ranges for HDL cholesterol are:
If the test shows that your HDL levels are lower than normal, this may mean you have
a higher risk of developing heart disease.
If your HDL level is higher than the normal range, this is good news: HDL helps rid
your system of LDL. It helps protect against heart problems such as atherosclerosis,
or hardening of the arteries. Researchers think that a level of 60 mg/dL or higher
may protect against heart disease.
How is this test done?
The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in
your arm or hand.
Does this test pose any risks?
Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection,
bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may
feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore.
What might affect my test results?
Having another health condition, such as diabetes or taking certain medicines, can
affect the results of an HDL test.
How do I get ready for this test?
Ask your healthcare provider how you should prepare for this test. You don't usually
need to do anything before an HDL test, but if you're having a complete lipid panel,
you will probably have to fast and not exercise for 12 hours before having the test.
Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements
you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit
drugs you may use.