for Veterans and the Public
The level of certain fatty substances in the blood can give clues to your risk of heart disease. Triglycerides and cholesterol are important for health, but too much of them in the blood can cause fatty deposits to form in the arteries. This increases the chances of a heart attack. Too much triglyceride can also lead to pancreatitis, a serious inflammation of the pancreas. High cholesterol and high triglycerides can occur in people living with HIV. They can also be a side effect of some HIV medications.
Cholesterol is measured by three different tests:
- Total cholesterol
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein), often referred to as "good" cholesterol because high levels lower your risk of heart disease
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein), often referred to as "bad" cholesterol because high levels raise your risk of heart disease
These tests are usually done at least once a year, and more often if your levels are high or you require medication to control triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Your provider may want the lipid panel to be done while you are fasting, which means nothing to eat or drink (except water) after midnight the night before the test. This gives the most accurate evaluation of the cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Be sure to ask your provider if the blood tests are recommended to be done fasting.