Cholesterol Testing

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is produced by the liver and found in certain foods. Cholesterol is necessary in the body, helping it produce hormones and the bile that helps digest fats.

Nobel Laureates

In 1985, Drs. Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein of UT Southwestern won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work unlocking the secrets of cholesterol metabolism.

But in many cases, too much cholesterol can cause a waxy substance called plaque to build up in the arteries. A plaque buildup can narrow the arteries, which can slow the blood flow and lead to heart attack and stroke. 

There are usually no symptoms of high cholesterol, but cholesterol levels can be checked and monitored with a simple blood test. Your doctor will take a small sample of blood from your arm and have it tested at a lab. You may need to fast before having your blood drawn.

UT Southwestern physicians recommend that you have your cholesterol checked every five years beginning at age 20.

You may need to have it checked more often if:

  • Your total cholesterol (good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides) is over 200 mg/dL
  • You are a man over age 45 or a woman over age 50
  • Your HDL (good) cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL
  • You have other risk factors for heart disease and stroke

Our endocrinologists can put you on a treatment plan that will help manage your cholesterol levels and prevent or lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.