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VLDL stands for very low density lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are substances made of cholesterol, triglycerides, and proteins. They move cholesterol, triglycerides, and other lipids to different parts of the body.
There are three major types of lipoproteins. VLDL contains the highest amount of triglycerides. VLDL is considered a type of bad cholesterol, because it helps cholesterol build up on the walls of arteries.
This article discusses the laboratory test to measure the amount of VLDL in your blood.
Very low density lipoprotein test
How the test is performed
A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture
How to prepare for the test
How the test will feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the test is performed
Your doctor may order this test to determine your risk of heart disease. Increased levels of VLDL are linked to atherosclerosis, which can lead to coronary heart disease.
This test may be included in a coronary risk profile.
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 with a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
What the risks are
There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling light-headed
- Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
There is no simple, direct way of measuring VLDL. Most labs estimate your VLDL based on your triglyceride level. It is approximately one fifth of your triglycerides level, although this is less accurate if your triglyceride level is above 400 mg/dL.
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.
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, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 213.
- Last Reviewed on 06/03/2012
- David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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This page was last updated: May 31, 2013