What You Should Know About Blood Lipids

What are blood lipids?

  • Lipids are fat-like substances found in your blood and body tissues.
  • Your body needs small amounts of lipids to work normally.

How are my blood lipids measured?

  • A blood test called a complete lipid profile is done.
  • It is recommended that this test be done after an overnight fast.

What happens if my lipids are too high?

An excess amount of blood lipids can cause fat deposits in your artery walls, increasing your risk for heart disease.

Are there different kinds of lipids?

Cholesterol is the main lipid. It is made up of different parts such as:

  • LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, is the main lipid that causes damaging buildup and blockage in your arteries.
  • HDL cholesterol is actually a “good” type of cholesterol that helps to prevent cholesterol from building up in your arteries.
  • Triglyceride is another lipid that may increase your risk for heart disease.

What are healthy lipid levels?

  • Your total cholesterol should be less than 200.
  • Your HDL cholesterol should be 40 or higher.
  • Your LDL cholesterol should be less than 100. Ask your doctor.
  • Your triglyceride level should be less than 150.

If my lipids are not at the right levels, what can be done to improve them?

  • Your doctor may recommend that you follow a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol.
  • You may also need to increase your activity level.
  • In some cases, you may also need to take a medication to help lower your lipid levels.

For more information:

  • Speak to your doctor.
  • Ask for a referral to a registered dietitian if you need help planning your diet.
  • Call the National Kidney Foundation’s toll-free number 1-800-622-9010.
  • Check the Web site of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at www.nhlbi.nih.gov

See also in this A-Z guide:

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© 2014 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.