Do I Need To Fast Before A Cholesterol Test?
Cholesterol is a type of fat produced by your body and is found in certain foods. Your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to function properly, but too much or too high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Because of this risk, it’s important to know your cholesterol levels for your heart health. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults have their cholesterol checked every four to six years, starting at age 20.
People with high cholesterol levels or other chronic conditions should get tested more often.
You may have heard that you need to fast or eat less in order to prepare for a cholesterol test. But is fasting really necessary? The answer is probably yes.
Do you need to fast?
Actually, you don’t need to fast to test your cholesterol. In the past, experts have concluded that early fasting is the most accurate. That’s because low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – also known as “bad cholesterol” – is affected by what you’ve eaten recently. Triglycerides (another type of fat in the blood) are also affected by the most recent meal.
New guidelines published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology say that people who are not taking statins do not need to fast before having their blood cholesterol levels tested.
Your doctor may recommend that you fast before having your cholesterol tested. If they tell you that you need to fast, they may recommend that you avoid eating for 9 to 12 hours before the test.
This is why cholesterol tests are often scheduled in the morning. This way, you don’t have to wait all day to be tested on a hungry stomach.
How is cholesterol tested?
Cholesterol is measured through a blood test. A health care provider will draw blood with a needle and collect it in a vial. This is usually done in a doctor’s office or laboratory where the blood test is performed.
The test takes only a few minutes and is relatively painless. However, there may be some pain and bruising on the arm around the injection site.
Your results may be available within a few days to a few weeks.
How do I prepare for the cholesterol test?
If you are not taking any cholesterol medications, you may not need to fast.
Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend that you drink only water and avoid food, other beverages and certain medications to make sure your results are correct.
Are there any other things to avoid? Alcohol: Drinking alcohol within 24 hours before your test may affect your triglyceride levels.
How your results will be read
Your blood will likely be checked by a test called a total lipid profile. To understand the results of your cholesterol test, you need to know the type of cholesterol measured by the test, what is considered normal, and what is considered high and potentially risky.
Here is a breakdown of each type. Keep in mind that if you have a condition such as diabetes, you need to aim for a lower number.
The total cholesterol index is the total amount of cholesterol in the blood.
- Acceptable range: less than 200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).
- Marginal: 200 to 239 mg/dL.
- High: 240 mg/dL or higher
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
Low-density lipoprotein (HDL)
LDL is a type of cholesterol that blocks blood vessels and increases the risk of heart disease.
- Likelihood: less than 70 for coronary heart disease.
- Less than 100 mg/dL if you are at risk for coronary heart disease or have a history of diabetes.
- Marginal: 130 to 159 mg/dL.
- High: 160 mg/dL or higher
- Very high: 190 mg/dL or higher
High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
High-density lipoproteins, or good cholesterol, protect the body from heart disease. This type helps prevent the buildup of cholesterol and removes excess cholesterol from the blood.The higher the HDL level, the better.
- Acceptable: 40 mg/dL or higher for men and 50 mg/dL or higher for women.
- Low: 39 mg/dL or less for men and 49 mg/dL or less for women
- Ideal: 60 mg/dL or higher.
High triglyceride levels associated with high LDL levels increase the risk of heart disease.
- Acceptable range: 149 mg/dL or less
- Limit: 150 to 199 mg/dL
- High: 200 mg/dL or higher
- Very high: 500 mg/dL or higher
You want your cholesterol test results to be within the acceptable range. If your numbers are borderline or high, you may need to make lifestyle changes or take medications, such as statins. Your doctor may also want to check your levels more often.
Causes of unhealthy cholesterol levels in the body
There are two main forms of cholesterol: the first is LDL cholesterol, often referred to as “bad cholesterol,” and the second is LDL cholesterol, often referred to as “high cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol in the body are considered unhealthy. The second, HDL cholesterol, is sometimes referred to as “good cholesterol.” High HDL cholesterol is a sign of good health.
If your doctor tells you that you have high cholesterol, he or she is usually referring to high LDL cholesterol or total cholesterol. Total cholesterol, sometimes called serum cholesterol, is the sum of LDL and HDL cholesterol and 20 percent of triglycerides, and both LDL and total cholesterol can be
Controlling cholesterol levels is important for maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels. In general, you do not need to fast before taking the test. However, if you are already taking cholesterol medication, your doctor may recommend fasting.
Cholesterol is a type of fat in your blood. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, but you also get it from the foods you eat. Genetics, age, diet and activity levels can affect your risk of high cholesterol.
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. It increases your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. It also increases the risk of stroke. High levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), in particular, increase the risk of these diseases. LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad cholesterol”.
If your cholesterol levels are high, your doctor may prescribe medications or lifestyle changes. For example, you can lower your cholesterol levels by maintaining a healthy weight for your height, increasing physical activity, eating nutrient-rich foods and quitting smoking.
If you need to fast, be sure to ask your doctor before your test.