How to Interpret the Results of a Lipid Panel


A lipid panel is a medical test used by physicians to measure the amount cholesterol and fats, also called triglycerides, in your blood and body. This test is useful in nutritional planning, as well as to evaluate effectiveness of prescribed cholesterol medication. Cholesterol and triglycerides are essential to nutritional health when at normal levels, but they can cause problems when they reach abnormal levels. Once a lipid panel is ordered, you will have a blood specimen drawn at a medical laboratory. Test processing can take a few days, and the results will be sent to your physician. The amount of triglycerides and cholesterol is measured in the number of milligrams (mg) per deciliter (dL) of blood. The four common components tested in a lipid panel are total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.


  • Looking at your lipid panel results, find the number for the total cholesterol. Compare your number with the following scale:
    Below 200 mg/dL----Desirable level of total cholesterol
    200 to 239 mg/dL----Borderline high total cholesterol
    240 mg/dL and above----High total cholesterol

  • Looking at your lipid panel results, find the result for LDL cholesterol. Compare your number to the following scale:

    Below 70 mg/dL----Desirable for those at very high risk of heart disease
    Below 100 mg/dL----Desirable for those at risk of heart disease
    100 to 129 mg/dL----Desirable level for average people
    130 to 159 mg/dL----Borderline high
    160 to 189 mg/dL----High
    190 mg/dL and above----Very high

  • Looking at your lipid panel results, find the result for HDL cholesterol. Compare your number to the following scale:
    Below 40 mg/dL in men----Poor
    Below 50 mg/dL in women----Poor
    50 to 59 mg/dL----Moderate
    60 mg/dL and above----Desirable

  • Looking at your lipid panel results, find the result for your triglycerides. Compare your number to the following scale:
    149 mg/dL and below----Desirable
    150 to 199 mg/dL----Borderline high
    200 to 499 mg/dL----High
    500 mg/dL----Very high

  • Compare current results to any previous lipid panel results to monitor for improvement. If a negative change is noted, seek medical advice from your physician.

  • Retain these results in your records to compare with future lipid panels.

Tips & Warnings

  • These laboratory values and guidelines are specifically for the United States, and might not represent lipid profile guidelines for other countries.
  • Lifestyle changes can help improve the results of your lipid panel. Talk to your doctor.

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