Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance in your blood. There are two main kinds of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also called “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol. A cholesterol test measures how much of each type of cholesterol you have in your blood.
Too much LDL cholesterol might put you at risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, and other serious conditions. High LDL levels can also cause the build-up of plaque, which can cause a heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease.
A cholesterol test is a blood test that’s often performed as part of a routine exam. It also might be ordered if you have a family history of heart disease or certain risk factors, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.