The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Guidelines

The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends screening for lipid disorders at least once every five years starting at age 20. More frequent or earlier testing may be recommended if you have:

  • A family history of elevated lipid levels
  • Other risk factors or conditions known to increase lipid levels
  • A complication that could have resulted from elevated lipid levels

Screening is recommended for children ages 9-11 years old and children 17-21 years old. For children of other ages, screening is only suggested if they have an increased risk factors such as:

  • Have family history of heart disease or stroke in family members < 55 years old in males or < 65 years old in females
  • Have parents with total cholesterol ≥ 240 mg/dL (6.2 mmol/L) or lipid disorder
  • Have diabetes, hypertension, overweight, or obesity
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Have moderate- or high-risk medical condition

Screening is not recommended in children under two years old.

Screening Tests

Cholesterol levels are checked with a blood test. A blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. You may need to fast for several hours before your blood is taken. The test measures levels of:

  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Triglycerides