The HDLC blood test is a common test that is ordered for all individuals who are above the age of 35. It is designed to determine the levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol that happens to be in the blood. It will often be ordered as part of a full cholesterol panel so that LDLC and triglycerides can also be determined.

The goal is to determine if an individual has an unhealthy level of lipids. This can then help a medical provider be able to determine what an individual’s personal risk for heart disease development will be in the future.

HDLC is the good cholesterol since it acts to remove cholesterol from tissues and will then carry it to the liver so it can be removed. Having a high level of HDLC is not necessarily a bad test result, though HDL and LDL levels are often compared to one another to develop a cholesterol ratio to determine the total risk a patient may face.

When Will the HDLC Blood Test Be Ordered?

The HDLC blood test may be ordered as part of a complete lipid profile during an annual health checkup. For individuals who have a no or low risk of heart disease development from past results, a follow-up test is recommended every 4-6 years.

It may also be ordered more frequently when an individual has one or more risk factors for heart disease development that qualify as a major risk factor. Some of those major risk factors include frequent smoking of cigarettes and cigars, using tobacco chews, having a BMI that qualifies as being overweight or obese, and eating an unhealthy diet.

Additional major risk factors include being physically inactive on a regular basis, being older than 45 as a male or 55 as a female, having regular blood pressure readings above 140/90, and a family history of premature heart disease.

Diabetes, prediabetes, or having a first heart attack also qualify automatically as a high risk factor.

Children are also recommended for screening when there are family risk factors for heart disease development. If parents have high cholesterol levels, then a child above the age of 9 will usually receive a recommendation for a lipid profile as well.

What Do My HDLC Test Results Mean?

Healthy lipid levels help to maintain a strong heart. A good HDLC result is an indication that the risks of a future adverse health event will be lower. The results from the HDLC blood test will be compared to the rest of the lipid profile to offer a complete result.

Please Note: Guidelines for HDLC results, LDLC results, and other lipid testing does vary from provider to provider. Some may use updated guidelines, while others still prefer guidelines from the NCEP ATP 3. The following information is from the updated guidelines.

  • If HDLC levels are less than 40 mg/dL for men or less than 50 mg/dL for women, then there is generally an increased risk of heart disease which is independent of all other risk factors.
  • Most HDLC blood test results will fall between 40-50 mg/dL for men and 50-59 mg/dL for women. This has been associated with an average overall risk of heart disease when taken as an individual test result.
  • If the HDLC blood test results are above 60 mg/dL, this this is associated with a below average risk of heart disease. HDL levels at this amount are considered to be protective and can be treated as a negative risk factor.

There are also guidelines for HDLC blood test results that apply to children as well.

  • HDLC loves that are less than 40 mg/dL are associated with an increased risk of heart disease that is independent of all other risk factors, just as it is with adults.
  • Borderline test results will fall between 40-45 mg/dL.
  • Anything that is above 45 mg/dL is considered to be an acceptable or positive test result when evaluating the lipid profile of a child.

Here’s What You Need to Know

HDLC blood tests should not be given when an individual is ill. This can create results that are temporarily low. Testing should not occur after a heart attack, surgery, or when someone is suffering from ongoing stress. It may take 4-6 weeks for an individual to recover for a proper test result.

Some results are reported in ratios of HDL and LDL to triglycerides instead of a specific HDLC blood test reading. A positive ratio would be below 5:1, with the optimal ratio 3.5:1.

The HDLC blood test is not a definitive screening tool, but it can provide an insight to future risk factors so changes can be made. Ask your doctor if this blood test would be right for you today.