Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Current clinical laboratory practice: investigation of plasma lipids--which tests and when?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 292 doi: (Published 21 June 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;292:1652
  1. W J Marshall,
  2. F C Ballantyne


    Clinical interest in the lipoproteins stems mainly from the association between serum cholesterol concentrations and coronary heart disease. Investigations of lipoproteins should be performed in patients with premature coronary heart disease, with a strong family history of coronary heart disease, or with certain cutaneous stigmata of hyperlipoproteinaemia and when fasting serum samples are seen to be lipaemic. Family studies should be performed in appropriate cases to identify relatives at increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. Patients with conditions known to cause secondary hyperlipoproteinaemia should be investigated if they fall into one of these categories but only after treatment of the underlying condition. Non-specialist laboratories should be able to measure total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations and high density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. Lipoprotein electrophoresis has a limited role in such laboratories and is not necessary as a routine procedure. Specialist laboratories should in addition be able to measure individual lipoproteins and identify apolipoprotein E phenotypes.