Lipidogram: understand the exam and what are the reference values

Laboratory tests are ways to answer clinical questions about the origin of any disease or irregularity that affects the organism. However, examinations are also performed for preventive purposes.

Because of this, it is very important to do check ups with a certain frequency to ensure that your health is up to date or, when not, to be able to identify an illness at an early stage, subject to treatment that reduces the chances of major problems.

Among the preventive exams, there is the lipidogram, which measures the amount of lipids (fats) in the body and helps with medical guidance to inhibit the onset of diseases. Find out more about him in the text below!


What is a complete lipidogram?

The lipidogram test can attest to the concentration of fat molecules in the body.

The complete lipidogram, also called total cholesterol or lipid profile (more recent term), is an exam that aims to know the exact amount of lipids (LDL, HDL, VLDL, triglycerides and total cholesterol) in the patient’s body .

Through this examination, it is assessed whether the levels are adequate or not, and whether there are risks of the individual developing future diseases related to any of the lipid profiles.

Altogether, there are 5 values ​​attested after the exam:

  • LDL (low density lipoprotein): popularly known as bad cholesterol, LDL works by transporting particles of cholesterol present in the liver, to other areas such as the arteries.
  • HDL (high density lipoprotein): also called good cholesterol, HDL has the function of removing fatty substances from cells and sending them to the liver, where they will be metabolized and eliminated from the body.
  • VLDL (very low density lipoprotein): also considered a bad cholesterol, VLDL transports fat molecules to the arterial walls and increases the chances of heart disease.
  • Triglycerides: main fats that serve as sources of energy for the body.
  • Total cholesterol: this is the value that corresponds to the sum of the rates of LDL, HDL, VLDL and triglycerides that are in circulation.

To make the lipidogram, the patient must go to a laboratory, which in turn will collect a blood sample and send it for analysis.

According to the Brazilian Consensus for the Standardization of Laboratory Determination of the Lipid Profile, it is no longer necessary to be fasted to perform the collection procedure.

However, it is always advisable to ask what guidelines each laboratory gives.

Is lipidogram the same as cholesterol?

The lipidogram is the test that can attest to the concentration of each lipid substance (fat molecule) in the body, whether it is cholesterol or not.

However, as all of these substances interfere with the final result, it also ends up being called the total cholesterol test and / or fractions.

What is the lipidogram test for?

The lipidogram test measures the rate of total cholesterol and its fractions. So, it serves to assist in the prevention of diseases related to the lipid profile or, even, to accompany the maintenance of their treatment.

The exam must always be interpreted in conjunction with other results and conditions. Therefore, if any lipid substance is elevated, the doctor will assess the risks and complications that this can bring to the patient’s health and well-being.

Some of the conditions that can be monitored or assessed through the exam are:

  • Cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, heart attack, stroke, etc.);
  • Obesity;
  • Kidney diseases (stones, infection, tumors, etc.);
  • Cancer;
  • Liver diseases (in the liver);
  • Brain inflammations.

When is the lipidogram necessary?

It is recommended that adult people perform the lipidogram every five years, because the earlier the excess cholesterol is found, the faster it is possible to make changes that lower the rates, and consequently the risk (or advance) of diseases.

For those who take medication to control cholesterol, the exam should be done every 12 months, as a way to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment, as well as make adjustments if necessary.

Children and adolescents should also take the lipidogram, but within a period defined by specialists. In general, it will be more frequent if there are genetic factors or changes that can promote the increase of cholesterol in the body.

How is done?

In order to know the individual’s lipid profile, it is necessary to collect a blood sample from the patient.

To make the lipidogram, a small amount of blood is collected by means of a common puncture. It is then sent for laboratory analysis. The process is quick and simple. There is only the pain of a bite, but it is usually well tolerated even by children.

The deadline for delivering the results will depend on the location where the analysis is made, but in general, it is a maximum of 10 days.

Results: what are the fasting reference values?

In the instructions provided by the Brazilian Consensus for the Standardization of the Laboratory Determination of the Lipid Profile, it is possible to find a comparison between the reference values ​​of people over 20 years old, fasting or without fasting .

The desirable values ​​(reference category) of total cholesterol (sum of all lipid substances), HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides (source of energy for the body) are:

LIPIDS Fasting (mg / dl)Without fasting (mg / dL)Referential category
Total cholesterol<190<190Desirable
HDL  (good cholesterol)> 40> 40Desirable

Already the values ​​present in the risk category are LDL (bad cholesterol) and not HDL (sum of all cholesterol considered bad).

This category is divided into low, intermediate, high and very high, because depending on the quantity it is possible to know the level of risk of cardiovascular diseases for the individual (taking into account the entire clinical status). Look:

Risk category
LDL  (bad cholesterol)<130<130Low
=<50<50Very high
Non-HDL (sum of all bad cholesterol rates, that is, IDL + LDL + VLDL)<160<160Low
=<80<80Very high

For children and adolescents, the reference table is slightly different, as it contains the desirable values ​​(including LDL), but it does not present the non-HDL rate.


LIPIDS Fasting (mg / dl)Without fasting (mg / dL)
Total cholesterol <170<170
HDL (good cholesterol)> 45> 45
Triglycerides (0–9 years)<75<85
Triglycerides (10–19 years)<90<100
LDL (bad cholesterol)<110<110

What are the precautions before taking the exam?

Fasting is no longer a requirement for lipidograms, however, in some cases it may be necessary.

The precautions to be taken a few days before the exam is performed are usually indicated by the doctor who was consulted.

However, there are some recommendations that can be made, such as:

  • Avoid alcohol consumption for up to 72 hours before the exam;
  • Suspend the use of any medication, if the doctor so determines;
  • Do not practice intense physical activities on the day before the lipidogram is performed.

According to the Brazilian Consensus for the Standardization of Laboratory Determination of the Lipid Profile, it is no longer necessary for the patient to remain fasting.

However, in some cases the doctor may consider it necessary and advise the patient to stay up to 12 hours before the lipidogram without eating or drinking.

Lipidogram: can you drink water?

If there is no medical contraindication, water consumption is released hours before the lipidogram is performed.

However, it is necessary to consume enough to quench the thirst, because if there are excesses, there are chances of interference in the blood sample collected and consequently in the test result.

So, so that there is no doubt, ask the laboratory responsible for taking the test days before.

Price and where to do it

The lipidogram or total cholesterol test can be performed in most laboratories in the country, however, it is necessary to present an exam request document signed by the doctor consulted.

In addition, to carry out the exam, you must bring an official document with a photo and also the ID card of the Unified Health System (if done through it), or the money that corresponds to the exam price (if done independently) .

For those who wish to take private laboratories, the average exam value is between R $ 20 and R $ 30. In addition, the exam is among those covered by health plans.

Can you do it for SUS?

Yes, the lipidogram can be performed through SUS completely free of charge. It is necessary to go through a previous consultation with a specialist, who will request the clinical analysis

With the requisition in hand, the examination can be carried out in the collection units, according to guidelines.