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VLDL test

Definition

VLDL stands for very low density lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are made up of cholesterol, triglycerides, and proteins. They move cholesterol, triglycerides, and other lipids (fats) to around the body.

There are three main types of lipoproteins. VLDL contains the highest amount of triglycerides. VLDL is a type of "bad cholesterol" because it helps cholesterol build up on the walls of arteries.

A lab test is used to measure the amount of VLDL in your blood.

Alternative Names

Very low density lipoprotein test

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

How the Test will Feel

You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted. You may also feel some throbbing at the site after the blood is drawn.

Why the Test is Performed

You may have this test to help assess your risk of heart disease. Increased levels of VLDL are linked to atherosclerosis. This condition can lead to coronary heart disease.

This test may be included in a coronary risk profile.

Normal Results

Normal VLDL cholesterol level is between 2 and 30 mg/dL.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What Abnormal Results Mean

High levels may be associated linked to a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.

Considerations

There is no direct way of measuring VLDL. Most labs estimate your VLDL based on your triglyceride level. It is about one fifth of your triglycerides level. This estimate is less accurate if your triglyceride level is above 400 mg/dL.

References

Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults. Executive summary of the third report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) expert panel on detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). JAMA. 2001;285:2486-2497.

Grundy SM, et al. Implications of recent clinical trials for the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines. Circulation. 2004 Jul 13; 110(2):227-39.

Semenkovich CF. Disorders of lipid metabolism. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 213.


Review Date: 5/5/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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