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Alternative namesLow density lipoprotein
DefinitionThis is a test that measures the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in serum.
How the test is performedAdult or child:
Blood is drawn from a vein ( venipuncture ), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The puncture site is cleaned with antiseptic, and a tourniquet (an elastic band) or blood pressure cuff is placed around the upper arm to apply pressure and restrict blood flow through the vein. This causes veins below the tourniquet to distend (fill with blood). A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. During the procedure, the tourniquet is removed to restore circulation. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding .
Infant or young child:
The area is cleansed with antiseptic and punctured with a sharp needle or a lancet. The blood may be collected in a pipette (small glass tube), on a slide, onto a test strip, or into a small container. Cotton or a bandage may be applied to the puncture site if there is any continued bleeding.
How to prepare for the testFasting for 12 hours may be advised. The health care provider may advise you to withhold drugs that may affect the test (see special considerations).
Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child's age, interests, previous experiences, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child's age:
How the test will feelWhen 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
This test is usually performed as part of an evaluation of coronary risk factors.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, your LDL cholesterol level is a better indicator of your risk for a heart attack and stroke than total cholesterol. The lower your LDL, the lower your risk for heart disease or stroke.
A healthy LDL level is one that falls in the optimal or near-optimal range.
What abnormal results meanHigh levels of LDL may be associated with:
What the risks are
Special considerationsDrugs that can increase lipoprotein levels include aspirin, oral contraceptives, phenothiazines, corticosteroids, and sulfonamides.
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.
Update Date: 5/23/2003David Webner, M.D., Department of Family Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT