Often termed “good” cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol, HDL-C) is one of the classes of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol in the blood. HDL-C consists primarily of protein with a small amount of cholesterol. It is considered to be beneficial because it removes excess cholesterol from tissues and carries it to the liver for disposal.
High levels of cholesterol have been shown to be associated with the development of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and heart disease. When cholesterol levels in the blood increase (not enough is removed by HDL), it may be deposited on the walls of blood vessels. These deposits, termed plaques, can build up, causing vessel walls to become more rigid, and may eventually narrow the openings of blood vessels, constricting the flow of blood.
A higher level of blood HDL-C is usually associated with a lower risk of developing plaques, lowering the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Screening with a lipid profile is recommended for children as well as adults. Children should be tested at least once between the ages of 9 and 11 and once again between the ages of 17 and 21.
HDL-C levels may also be ordered at regular intervals to evaluate the success of lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise or smoking cessation aimed at increasing someone’s level of HDL-C. Guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend that adults taking statins have a fasting lipid profile done 4 to 12 weeks after starting therapy and then every 3 to 12 months thereafter to assure that the drug is working.
Fasting Required: fasting for 9 to 12 hours before sample collection is typically required; only water is permitted.
CPT Code: 83718
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