Lipids are fat substances that provide energy to the body; are necessary for the production of steroid hormones and bile acids; and have a role in creating cell membranes. Two dominant lipids are cholesterol and triglyceride. Cholesterol and triglycerides are transported in the bloodstream by lipoproteins, which are complex molecules consisting of plasma proteins and lipids. Lipoproteins are categorized as high-density lipoproteins (HDL), cholesterol-rich plasma proteins; very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), triglyceride-rich plasma proteins; and low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the cholesterol-rich product of very-low-density lipoprotein breakdown.
A lipid profile includes measuring plasma levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, HDLs, LDLs, and VLDLs. The purpose of the lipid profile is to detect disorders of lipid metabolism and to assess the risk of atherosclerosis, arteriosclerotic heart disease (ASHD), and peripheral vascular disease. Table 2-3 identifies each lipid test and related diagnostic applications.
Table 2-3. Lipid Profile Tests
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) Triglyceride
Atherosclerosis; coronary artery disease "Protective" for atherosclerosis Major source of cholesterol-rich low-
density lipoproteins Deposits cholesterol into the peripheral tissue; ASHD; atherosclerosis; peripheral vascular disease
Coronary and vascular disease; fat metabolism
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