Harvard Women's Health Watch

"Advanced" cholesterol testing: Is it for you?

A discussion with your doctor can help to determine whether an advanced cholesterol test will be beneficial for you.

For most people, there is no advantage to tests that measure cholesterol and triglyceride particle size.

The familiar serum lipid profile (cholesterol test), which measures blood levels of total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides, has been getting some bad press lately. Advertising and media reports on "advanced lipoprotein testing" say the current test—a mainstay of cardiovascular screening for decades—falls short in identifying everyone at risk for heart disease. Manufacturers claim that newer tests, which give more detailed information about the size and quantity of subtypes of cholesterol and triglyceride particles, flag risks that the older tests don't measure.

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