Laboratory tests of blood and urine help us understand your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. They also help us plan the best treatment for you.

Total cholesterol (TC)

Importance:

  • Directly linked to risk of heart and blood vessel disease

Goal Values:

  • Patients aged <20: 75-169 mg/dL (your goal may be different depending on your age and other risk factors)
  • Patients aged >21: 100-199 mg/dL

Triglycerides (TG)

Importance:

  • Associated with heart and blood vessel disease
  • If your level is very high (>500-1,000 mg/dL), you have an increased risk of pancreatitis
  • Levels are higher if you are obese or diabetic
  • Eating simple sugars/simple carbohydrates, a high-fat diet and drinking alcohol can cause high levels
  • Exercise can help lower TG levels

Goal Values:

  • <150 mg/dL

High-density lipoprotein (HDL)

Importance:

  • “Good cholesterol”
  • High levels reduce your risk of heart and blood vessel disease. The higher your HDL level, the better.

Goal Values:

  • Men: >45 mg/dL
  • Women: >55 mg/dL

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)

Importance:

  • “Bad cholesterol”
  • High levels are linked to an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease
  • Major treatment target for patients taking cholesterol-lowering medications

Goal Values:

  • <70 mg/dL if you have heart or blood vessel disease, diabetes or have a very high risk of heart disease
  • <100 mg/dL if you have metabolic syndrome or more than one risk factor for heart disease
  • <130 mg/dL if your risk of coronary artery disease is low

Complete blood count with differential (CBC)

Importance:

  • Blood tests to get information about the parts of your blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets
  • Help detect disease and the extent of disease
  • Detect anemia (not enough red blood cells)

Goal Values:

  • White blood cell count: 5,000-10,000
  • Hematocrit (amount of blood made up of red cells): 40- 55% for men; 36-48% for women
  • Hemoglobin (part of red blood cell that carries oxygen): 14-18 gm/dL for men; 12-16 gm/dL for women

Lipoprotein (a) [(Lp(a)]

Importance:

  • Lp(a) is low-density lipoprotein (LDL) attached to a protein called apo (a)
  • High levels of Lp(a) increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, fatty build-up in veins after coronary artery bypass surgery and narrowing of the coronary arteries after angioplasty
  • High levels tend to run in families
  • Test may be recommended if you have a strong history of family members with heart disease at an early age
  • If your level is high, your doctor will likely be aggressive in manging your heart disease risk factors, especially your LDL level.

Goal Values:

  • <30 mg/dL

Homocysteine (Hcy)

Importance:

  • An amino acid
  • High levels are associated with an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease

Goal Values:

  • <10 umol/L

Fibrinogen

Importance:

  • A protein found in the blood
  • Helps blood clot, but too much increases your risk of a heart attack

Goal Values:

  • <300 mg/dL

Apoliprotein B (ApoB)

Importance:

  • A major protein found in cholesterol
  • Research suggests ApoB may be a better overall marker of risk than LDL alone. High levels indicate smaller, dense LDLs.

Goal Values:

  • <100 mg/dL

Creatine Kinase (CK)

Importance:

  • A muscle enzyme
  • May increase when taking medication to lower cholesterol

Goal Values:

  • 30-220 U/L

Alanine Amino-transferase (ALT) also called SGPT

Importance:

  • A liver enzyme
  • May increase when taking medication to lower cholesterol

Goal Values:

  • 5-45 U/L

Aspartate Trans-aminase (AST) also called SGOT

Importance:

  • A liver enzyme
  • May increase when taking medication to lower cholesterol

Goal Values:

  • 7-40 U/L

Hemoglobin A1c (HgA1c)

Importance:

  • Used to diagnose diabetes
  • Reflects average blood sugar levels over the last 2-3 months

Goal Values:

  • <5.6 Normal
  • 5.7-6.4 indicates pre-diabetes
  • >6.5 Indicates diabetes
  • <6.5-7.0 is goal for diabetic patients

Fasting glucose (also called fasting blood sugar)

Importance:

  • Elevated levels indicate diabetes and insulin resistance

Goal Values:

  • <100 mg/dL
  • 110-125 mg/dL indicates impaired fasting glucose
  • >126 mg/dL indicates diabetes

Insulin

Importance:

  • Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas to control blood sugar
  • High levels are associated with obesity, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, heart and blood vessel disease, and stroke

Goal Values:

  • 1-24 U/ml

Ultra-sensitive C-reactive protein (us-CRP) (also called high-sensitivity CRP)

Importance:

  • Indicates inflammation
  • Too much increase your risk of cardiovascular disease

Goal Values:

  • Low risk: <2.0 mg/dL
  • Intermediate risk: 2-2.9 mg/dL
  • High risk: >3.0 mg/dL

Urine albumin creatinine ratio (U Alb:Cr)

Importance:

  • Detects protein in the urine
  • A small amount of protein in the urine is a risk factor for heart and blood vessel disease

Goal Values:

  • <30 mg/g

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)

Importance:

  • Measures thyroid function

Goal Values:

  • 0.4-5.5 uU/mL

Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO)

Importance:

  • Comes from bacteria in your gut
  • High levels in meat, eggs, dairy
  • Taking choine, lecithin, L-carnitine and other supplements can cause high levels of TMAO
  • High levels in the blood increase risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and clogged arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • If your levels are high, your doctor will likely be aggressive to lower your LDL and other risk factors, have you take low-dose aspirin twice a day, and have you follow a Mediterranean diet

Goal Values:

  • Low risk: <6.2 uM
  • Intermediate Risk: 6.2 - 9.9 uM
  • High risk: 10.0 uM or higher

Aminoterminal, pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP)

Importance:

  • Protein made in the heart and found in the blood when there is extra strain on the heart
  • High levels are linked to a higher risk of heart and blood vessel disease and may mean there is a decrease in heart function. More tests may be done to get more information
  • If your levels are high, your doctor will likely be aggressive to reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems

Goal Values:

  • <125 pg/mL

Serum creatinine (CR)

Importance:

  • Related to kidney function

Goal Values:

  • 0.7-1.4 mg/dL

Global risk score (GRS)

Importance:

  • A tool to rate your risk of developing heart disease or of having a heart attack within the next 10 years

Goal Values:

  • Low risk: <10%
  • Intermediate risk: 10-20%
  • High risk: >20%

MPO

Importance:

  • Indicates inflammation
  • High levels are linked to a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and the need for coronary artery bypass surgery
  • High levels can also mean cardiovascular disease is getting worse
  • If your levels are high, your doctor will probably be aggressive to reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems

Goal Values:

  • < 350

Lipoprotein associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) (PLAC)

Importance:

  • Indicates inflammation in the artery walls
  • High levels are linked to a higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • High levels can also mean cardiovascular disease is getting worse
  • If your levels are high, your doctor will probably be aggressive to reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems

Goal Values:

  • <200 ng/mL

Vitamin D

Importance:

  • Fat-soluble vitamin
  • D3 Cholecalciferol
  • Vitamin D controls the calcium and phosphate levels in your body. Calcium and phosphate keep the bones healthy
  • Low levels of Vitamin D are linked to various health risks. Low levels can also mean you are having trouble tolerating a statin

Goal Values:

  • 31-80 ng/ml

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy