Doctors draw a small amount of blood, then analyze it in a lab, to determine your cholesterol level.

A cholesterol test is a simple blood test that's nearly painless and fairly inexpensive. And getting your blood-cholesterol level checked is the first step in keeping it under control.

In a doctor's office or at a hospital, a small amount of blood is drawn into a test tube and analyzed at a laboratory. The test result is then sent back to your doctor, who informs you of the numerical value and explains what it means. The numerical value indicates the weight, in milligrams, of the cholesterol contained in one deciliter of your blood and is expressed as mg/dL.

New technology has also made large-scale cholesterol screening possible. Cholesterol screening programs use portable machines that deliver results in less than ten minutes, using blood drawn by pricking the patient's finger.

The programs offer many Americans the convenience of having their cholesterol checked in such places as shopping malls and workplaces, but the results of such tests should be confirmed at a doctor's office or a laboratory, where greater accuracy can be achieved.

A lipid panel gives doctors more information about your cholesterol level. Find out about this test on the next page.

For more information on cholesterol, see:
  • Cholesterol Levels: We all know there's "good" and "bad" cholesterol. Find out why you need more of one kind of cholesterol and less of the other.
  • Consequences of High Cholesterol: High cholesterol can lead to a heart attack. Learn more about high cholesterol and heart attack and what other conditions high cholesterol contributes to.
  • Causes of High Cholesterol: Diet and DNA are the main causes of high cholesterol. Learn why the numbers might be high in your case.
  • How to Lower Cholesterol: Like many conditions, eating right and exercising helps control cholesterol. Learn what that means for you.
  • How Cholesterol Works: Cholesterol is essential to the body. Find out why we need it and how much is too much.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.