Fat travels through the body in packages called lipoproteins. Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) carries a type of fat known as triglycerides. The amount of VLDL in the blood can be measured. It is usually measured with other lipoproteins, such as HDL and LDL. This is known as a lipid profile test.
The level of VLDL can help assess a person's risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries). The test can also monitor how well medications prescribed to lower lipids are working.
The test is performed on a sample of blood. A needle is inserted into a vein, usually in the person's arm. Blood is then collected into a vial. A bandage and pressure are applied to the skin to prevent bleeding. The blood is sent to the lab for testing.
The person needs to refrain from eating for 10 to 12 hours before the test. Drinking water is permitted.
Normal VLDL levels are 25% to 50% of total cholesterol. Higher amounts are linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
Reasons for high VLDL levels can include: hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid glandhigh alcohol intakechronic liver disease, such as cirrhosischronic kidney diseasediabetesobesitypancreatitispregnancy or certain hormone medicationsdeficiency of an enzyme that breaks down lipids
Low levels of VLDL can result from: an inherited tendency toward low LDL and VLDL levelsabnormally low levels of protein in the blood, called hypoproteinemia. This may be the result of malnutrition, bowel problems, or severe burns.hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 1998, Kathleen D. Pagana and Timothy J. Pagana, Mosby, St. Louis.
Triglycerides: Bad Actors or Innocent Bystander?, May 1998, Harvard Heart Letter.