New Guidelines Simplify Cholesterol Tests: No Fasting Needed
Im supposed to have my cholesterol checked soon. Its a simple test, but Im not looking forward to it since it requires fasting overnight. And that means making a special early-morning trip to my doctors office.
But new international guidelines say its OK even preferred to skip the overnight fast.
To learn more about this small but oh-so-useful shift, I talked with cardiologist Dr. Samia Mora. She helped write the new guidelines, which were published this week in the European Heart Journal and summarized in JAMA Internal Medicine. Mora is director of the Center for Lipid Metabolomics at Brigham and Womens Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
How Is It Used
The test for total cholesterol is used alone or as part of a lipid profile to help predict an individual’s risk of developing heart disease and to help make decisions about what treatment may be needed if there is borderline or high risk. As part of a lipid profile , low-density lipoprotein cholesterol , and triglycerides), it may also be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment once it is initiated.
Because high blood cholesterol has been associated with hardening of the arteries , heart disease, and a raised risk of death from heart attacks, cholesterol testing is considered a routine part of preventive healthcare.
Results of the cholesterol test and other components of the lipid profile are used along with other known risk factors of heart disease to develop a plan of treatment and follow-up. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes such as diet or exercise programs or lipid-lowering drugs such as statins.
Common Fasting Blood Tests
Examples of blood tests that may require you to fast include:
- a fasting blood glucose test you may be asked to fast for 8 to 10 hours before the test
- an iron blood test you may be asked to fast for 12 hours before the test
For more information about a wider range of blood tests, go to Lab Tests Online.
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Lifestyle To Lower Cholesterol
You can do a number of things to improve your cholesterol. When it comes to diet, you need to cut back on your intake of foods high in saturated and trans fat, such as whole milk, eggs, fatty meats and butter.
Instead, fill your diet with foods low in these fats such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, seafood, poultry and lean red meat. The American Heart Association also suggests eating more fiber, aiming for 25 grams a day.
Aerobic exercise is recommended as well. The association suggests 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise, which might include a fast-paced walk five days a week to help improve cholesterol.
Why Is A Cholesterol Test Done
Raised cholesterol levels can cause cholesterol to be deposited within the walls of arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow through. This build-up in the walls of the arteries, which is called atherosclerosis, puts a person at significant risk of heart disease and stroke.
High cholesterol levels may not give you any symptoms, so a blood test is the best way to check how much cholesterol and other lipids your blood contains.
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How To Maintain A Healthy Diet During The Holidays
This blog was written in conjunction with Gerry Samantha Eichelberger and Jordan Carbono, Florida State University College of Medicine students.
Tis the season for singing, laughter, get-togethers and, of course, food galore. With the holiday season here and pumpkin pie tempting you at every turn, it can be challenging to stick to your meal plan and maintain a healthy diet.
Here are some simple strategies to help you enjoy the festivities with family and friends while remaining on track and even eating your cake, too!
Make smart recipe modifications: Create your favorite holiday recipes with healthier substitutions. Instead of using butter when baking, try unsweetened applesauce and canola oil. Replace sour cream with Greek yogurt. Reduce the amount of heavy cream or whole milk and use skim milk. Simple swaps like these can lower fat and caloric intake while still producing a delicious dish.
Portion control: If youre someone who enjoys the regular, authentic ingredients, limit how much you eat.
Hydrate: Studies show drinking more water is linked to eating fewer calories and less sugar, salt and cholesterol. Drinking more water and less sugary, high-calorie beverages is an easy way to facilitate diet management. A 2015 study published by The Obesity Society concluded that just two glasses of water before a meal can aid in curbing your appetite.
Make a Plan
Can I Drink Water Before A Fasting Blood Test
Your doctor may ask you to take a fasting blood test to determine your cholesterol or blood sugar levels. The process of fasting ensures that the results of your blood test will not be confused by foods that you have eaten during the last few hours that your body has not fully absorbed. You should not eat food, drink coffee or take some medications for eight to 12 hours before a fasting blood test, but most physicians agree that you can drink water.
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Does Drinking Water Affect Cholesterol Test
. Simply so, is it OK to drink water when fasting for cholesterol test?
Generally you’re required to fast, consuming no food or liquids other than water, for nine to 12 hours before the test. Some cholesterol tests don’t require fasting, so follow your doctor’s instructions.
Also Know, hOW DOES NOT fasting affect your cholesterol test? The truth is, your cholesterol can be tested without fasting. This is because your low-density lipoproteins also known as badcholesterol may be affected by what you’ve recently eaten. Your levels of triglycerides may also be affected by a recent meal.
Beside this, is it OK to drink water before lipid profile test?
Preparation: This test may be measured any time of the day without fasting. However, if the test is drawn as part of a total lipid profile, it requires a 12-hour fast .
Are cholesterol tests affected by food eaten the day before?
Fasting for 10 to 12 hours before a cholesterol test ensures that a single food or meal does not affect the outcome of the test. However, if you ate a cheeseburger every day, that probably would affect your numbers. Cholesterol levels are affected by what you eat over time.
Effects Of Eating Within 12 Hours
For some cholesterol tests, such as those that measure HDL and LDL cholesterol, people are advised to abstain from all food and beverages, except for water, for nine to 12 hours. Eating during this period can lead to the test underestimating LDL and HDL levels. It can also cause elevated measurements of triglycerides, another lipid found in the blood. Water, however, can be consumed in the time before the test without affecting the tests accuracy.
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Fasting In Your Future Heres What To Do
If you have to fast, dont stress. Doctors usually schedule tests in the morning, since patients tend to prefer nighttime fasting.
Go ahead and hydrate with H2O beforehand, but avoid juice, soda, and other drinks. And skip the adult beverages for at least 24 hours, since alcohol can raise your triglyceride levels.
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Risky Results What To Expect
If your results come back borderline or a little high, dont sweat it just yet. Its not just you: Almost one-third of American adults have high cholesterol. And you can totally bring down your levels and boost your health.
Heres what your doctor might recommend:
- Load up on fresh fruits and veggies and cut back on saturated fats in foods like cheese, bacon, egg yolks, whole milk, and dairy-based desserts.
- Eat high fiber foods like oatmeal, beans, and healthy fats .
- If you smoke, work on quitting.
- Exercise more often.
- Limit alcohol to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- In some cases, your doctor might prescribe cholesterol medication.
Your doctor will likely advise more regular tests until you get back on track. You may also need to get checked more often if you have a family history of high cholesterol.
Do You Need To Fast Before Your Cholesterol Test Show
A person should abstain from food and drink for 9 to 12 hours before a fasting cholesterol test. It used to be common for a person to fast for 9 to 12 hours before taking a cholesterol test, meaning they should not eat or drink anything but water during that time.
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Can I Drink Coffee / Alcohol / Juice / Soda / Tea While Fasting
No. Any beverage other than water should not be consumed before a blood test, unless approved by your healthcare provider. Alcohol, soda, and juice contain high quantities of sugar, which can interfere with many common test results.
Black coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages are diuretics, which can have a dehydrating effect and cause test results to be inaccurate. For best results, avoid drinking all non-water beverages for the recommended amount of time before your test.
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Nonfasting Levels Might Be Better
After you eat, your digestive system converts some of the carbohydrates and fats into triglycerides. Their level in the bloodstream rises, then gradually falls. If the triglyceride level rises too much, its a signal that the body has trouble metabolizing food. Think of eating as a stress test for metabolism. Thats something you cant see if youve been fasting.
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What Do These Numbers Even Mean
After the test, youll take a look at your total lipid profile. Your doctor will explain whether your results appear normal, at-risk, or high.
These are the adult recommendations, according to the American Heart Associations 2018 guidelines. All values are in mg/dL :
Total cholesterol: All the cholesterol found in your blood
- Good: below 200
Triglycerides: A major type of fat in the body
- Good: below 149
- High: 200+
- Very high: 500
Folks with conditions like diabetes might need to shoot for lower numbers, so chat with your doctor to know whats right for you. Cholesterol guidelines also vary by age: Kids should have lower levels than adults.
If your numbers are in the at-risk zone, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to lower them.
Can I Drink Water Before A Fasting Blood Test For Cholesterol
If a healthcare skilled has requested an individual to quick, they need to not devour something aside from water the night time earlier than a ldl cholesterol take a look at. Fasting signifies that an individual can solely devour water for the hours earlier than their take a look at. If an individual doesnt must quick, they need to have the ability to eat and drink usually.
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Why Are Cholesterol Tests Used
A person can have too much cholesterol in their body. Often, people with high cholesterol have no symptoms.
Cholesterol can combine with other substances in the blood and make a substance called plaque that clogs the arteries.
The higher a persons cholesterol levels, the more likely they are to have health problems related to high cholesterol, including:
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol Before A Blood Test
Go for extra fiber-rich carbohydrates entire grains, beans and lentils, greens, fruit and fewer easy carbs equivalent to sugar and white flour. Watch alcohol consumption, particularly in case your triglycerides are excessive, as a result of alcohol dramatically will increase triglyceride ranges in some folks.
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Can Eating Change A Cholesterol Test
Cholesterol testing is recommended every five years for people over the age of 20, MayoClinic.com explains. Eating in the hours before a cholesterol test may interfere with the results, but it may not make a significant difference. Before taking a cholesterol test, talk to a doctor to discuss any steps needed to prepare.
The History Behind Fasting Cholesterol Tests
When doctors test for cholesterol, we almost always order a group of tests called a lipid panel . This panel typically includes four separate measures:
- Total cholesterol concentration.
- Low-density lipoprotein* cholesterol, often called the bad cholesterol. The amount of LDL in your blood strongly predicts your risk of cardiovascular disease, as higher levels are associated with development of plaque in the arteries.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often called good cholesterol because higher levels protect against heart disease.
- Triglycerides . High levels of triglycerides are also associated with vascular disease, although this relationship isnt as well defined.
*Lipoproteins are the packages that transport cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Lipids have traditionally been drawn after a fast for two main reasons. The first was to minimize variation, since eating can affect some lipid levels. The second was to produce a better calculation of LDL-cholesterol, which is often derived from an equation thought to provide highly distorted results after eating. However, more recent studies have largely negated these concerns.
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Fasting Before A Cholesterol Test
Fasting for eight to 12 hours before a cholesterol test doesnt seem to be necessary. But for now, people should continue to follow their physicians advice on this matter.
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Hydration Is Still Important
It may not be the the key to lowering your cholesterol, but it’s important to note that hydration is still essential to your health because of the many important functions water does perform.
According to USGS, water nourishes cellular growth while regulating internal body temperature through sweating and breathing. And while coursing through your bloodstream, water essentially takes on the role of your body’s head waiter, working 24/7 to distribute and deliver all the carbs, proteins and nutrients you eat to the doorstep of all your hungry organs and muscles.
Water also acts as a protective buffer for your brain and spinal cord, works to lubricate your joints and helps you get rid of all the unwanted waste.
So, it perhaps goes without saying that hydration is clearly ideal for your overall health. In fact, the Mayo Clinic warns that dehydration is potentially a very dangerous condition, particularly when children or seniors are involved. Thus, it’s a good idea to stay on the lookout for any telltale signs of dehydration. Those signs, according to the Mayo Clinic, include extreme thirst, lightheadedness, exhaustion, diminished urination and/or dark-colored urine.
“Certainly staying adequately hydrated is good for you,” Sandon says. “Water found in food and drinks is an essential nutrient. So follow your thirst as a guide to drink when you need to, and check your urine color.”
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The Dos And Donts Of Fasting Before Routine Bloodwork
If you have ever visited a primary care provider, then you have likely been asked to fast before getting routine bloodwork. To learn more, we asked an expert about what you can and cannot do while fasting.
Some of those blood tests, in either screening for chronic conditions or in monitoring of your chronic conditions, may be affected by some of the nutrients that are in food or drink, said Jason McKnight, MD, MS, family medicine physician at Texas A& M Health Family Care and clinical assistant professor at the Texas A& M College of Medicine.
McKnight also mentioned the food or drinks you consume the day or night before a blood test does not impact your test results, unlike what you eat or drink the morning of your test.
Its recommended that you avoid coffee and other liquids during your fast, McKnight said. You never know what kind of nutrient value or additives are in those liquids, so its best to just stick with sips of water, unless otherwise cleared by your physician or provider.
On a similar note, he says to avoid vitamins and snacks, but not to stop any prescribed medications, unless otherwise instructed by your provider. If you have any questions about whether you need to fast and for how long, ask your health care provider the day before your bloodwork.
For Vital Record, this is Mary Leigh Meyer.
If Lifestyle Changes Arent Enough
Take medications, if you need to, to lower your cholesterol into healthy ranges. Drugs like statins can be very effective, says Dr. Danine Fruge, MD, ABFP – Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center, but do continue in your efforts to eat well and exercise because a healthy lifestyle can give you far, far more than drugs alone.
With a healthy living program like Pritikin, youre not only reducing cholesterol quickly, youre also creating changes throughout your body that can profoundly improve your overall well-being. Youre reducing blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Other heart disease risk factors like triglyceride fats are also dropping dramatically. Youre also reducing inflammatory factors that sicken arteries. Youre shedding excess weight. And, quite simply, youre feeling better, much better. Many of our guests at Pritikin tell us, I had no idea I could feel this good again.
Can any pill or combination of pills do all of the above? I highly doubt it. But a healthy lifestyle like Pritikin can.
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