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Fasting for serum lipid profile determination

What is a lipid profile?

The lipid profile is a group of tests that are often requested together to determine risk of coronary heart disease. The tests that make up a lipid profile are tests that have been shown to be good indicators of whether someone is likely to have a heart attack or stroke caused by blockage of blood vessels.

What tests are included in a lipid profile?

The lipid profile includes total cholesterol (sometime called bad cholesterol), HDL-cholesterol (often called good cholesterol), total cholesterol/HDL ratio, and triglycerides. Sometimes the report will include additional calculated values such as HDL/Cholesterol ratio.

How is a lipid profile used?

The lipid profile is used to guide clinicians in deciding how a person at risk should be treated. The results of the lipid profile are considered along with other known risk factors of heart disease, such as high blood pressure or diabetes to develop a plan of treatment and follow-up.


We recommend that patients fast for at least 12 hours before the blood test. For example if you are due to have the test at 9am next morning you should fast from 9pm the evening before. This is because test results change after eating and drinking.

During this time, no food and no liquid (including any form of coffee or tea) should be consumed. You can however have plain water.

On the morning of the test avoid smoking or carrying out any rigorous exercise as these can again affect the result of the test.

Failure to fast for the required period may result in equivocal results being obtained, which could be misinterpreted or requires a repeat of the entire procedure.

If you are diabetic on insulin or diabetes medications (apart from metformin only) you do not need to fast, however let this be known to the phlebotomist carrying out the blood test.

Contact details

Epsom Hospital
Department of chemical pathology
Tel: 01372 73 5258

St Helier Hospital
Department of chemical pathology
Tel: 020 8296 2801