Coronary risk profile

Alternative names
Lipoprotein/cholesterol analysis


A coronary risk profile involves a battery of blood tests to evaluate cholesterol and triglycerides. These are indicators of risk for heart disease.

How the test is performed

Blood is drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The puncture site is cleaned with antiseptic, and an elastic band is placed around the upper arm to cause the vein to swell with blood.

A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an airtight vial or a syringe. During the procedure, the band is removed to restore circulation. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed and the puncture site is covered with gauze or with a bandage to stop any bleeding.

In infants or young children, the area is cleansed with antiseptic and punctured with a sharp needle or a lancet. The blood may be collected in a pipette (small tube), on a slide, onto a test strip, or into a small container. Cotton or a bandage may be applied to the puncture site if there is any continued bleeding.

The blood is analyzed by the laboratory to determine the levels of:

  • Triglycerides  
  • LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol  
  • HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol  
  • Total cholesterol  
  • Serum VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) cholesterol

How to prepare for the test

You should not eat or drink anything except water for 9-12 hours before having your blood drawn.

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

The coronary risk profile is most often performed:

  • As a screening examination to determine the general health of the person  
  • When there is a history of heart disorders or other disorders related to atherosclerosis  
  • To determine the effect of diet and medications to control hypercholesterolemia

Normal Values

  • Triglycerides: 10 to 190 mg/dL  
  • LDLcholesterol: 60 to 120 mg/dL  
  • HDL cholesterol: 35 to 100 mg/dL  
  • Total cholesterol: 100 to 240 mg/dL  
  • VLDL: 2 to 38 mg/dL

Note: mg/dL = milligrams per deciliter

The ideal values for patients with known coronary artery disease are different from those for patients without coronary disease.

What abnormal results mean

Elevated values indicate an increased risk for atherosclerosis and related disorders, including heart disease.

High values of HDL (greater than 35) are protective and are therefore desirable.

What the risks are

There is very little risk for having your blood drawn. However, veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaning a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

  • Excessive bleeding  
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed  
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)  
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)  
  • Multiple punctures to locate veins

Special considerations

Conditions under which the test may be performed:


Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by David A. Scott, M.D.

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