What Causes High Cholesterol
Your liver produces cholesterol, but you also get cholesterol from food. Eating too many foods that are high in fat can increase your cholesterol level.
Being overweight and inactive also causes high cholesterol. If you are overweight, you most likely have a higher level of triglycerides. If you never exercise and arent active in general, it can lower your HDL .
You family history also affects your cholesterol level. Research has shown that high cholesterol tends to run in families. If you have an immediate family member who has it, you could have it, too.
Smoking also causes high cholesterol. It lowers your HDL .
Type Of Cholesterol Measured
All at-home cholesterol test kits measure total cholesterol, and the more advanced options provide HDL and triglycerides readings as well. Only one of the FDA-approved cholesterol test kits also measures LDL. Pay close attention to what each test measures if youre in need of a more comprehensive analysis, and expect higher price tags on the tests that provide more measurements.
What Causes High Levels Of Bad Cholesterol
Foods that are high in cholesterol are not the only contributor to bad cholesterol levels.
Instead, typically a combination of various lifestyle factors is to blame. Obesity, lack of exercise, diabetes, alcohol and cigarettes all play a role. Some people are also genetically predisposed to have high cholesterol levels.
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When To See A Doctor
At-home tests cannot provide the information needed to assess your cardiovascular risk or decide when treatment is needed.
And although at-home cholesterol tests may let you know that you may have high cholesterol levels, the FDA states that home-use tests are best interpreted when they are evaluated alongside your medical history, a physical exam, and other tests performed during a doctor visit.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults 20 years or older should have their cholesterol checked by their doctor every four to six years. Those with heart disease, diabetes, or a family history of high cholesterol should see their doctor more frequently.
Talk with your doctor so that they can help assess your risk and advise you on how frequently you need to see them for testing.
When Should I Get An At
You can consider getting an at-home test if you are curious about your blood cholesterol. This can provide information about your current cholesterol levels and may help initiate a more in-depth conversation with your doctor about heart health and wellness.
At the same time, you should not have an at-home cholesterol test if you have concerns or symptoms related to your health. In that case, you should talk with your doctor for specific guidance. Your doctor can also review the pros and cons of at-home cholesterol testing in your situation.
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First What Is Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat found in your blood. Theres good cholesterol, known as high-density lipoprotein . And theres bad cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein . HDL helps protect your heart. LDL builds up on the walls of your arteries, blocking healthy blood flow and raising your stroke and heart attack risk.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. High levels of triglycerides also raise your stroke risk.
The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends the following cholesterol levels:
|Less than 150 mg/dL
Buying Guide For Best Home Cholesterol Test Kits
If your cholesterol levels dont fall within normal ranges, you are at risk for strokes and cardiovascular disease. To stay healthy, lipid profile blood testing as prescribed by your healthcare provider is important. But, in between doctor visits, how do you know if youre keeping your levels in check?
Home cholesterol test kits provide an easy way to test various forms of cholesterol and triglycerides. Many tests available on todays market offer a high degree of accuracy, and some are even approved by the Food and Drug Administration . And while home cholesterol testing should never take the place of thorough lipid testing performed by your doctor, its a good tool for monitoring your numbers before your next visit.
Whether this is your first time shopping for a home cholesterol test kit or you are browsing different options to find the best one for your needs, youve come to the right place. We have selected the top kits available based on reliability and results and put together a handy shopping guide below to help you choose the right kit for your needs.
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A: Yes You Can Now Check Your Cholesterol At Home
The bigger question is, âwhat do you want to check, and how?â.
Though the most common way to check cholesterol remains the inconvenient process of going to a doctorâs office and/or laboratory, there are now several options for checking cholesterol at home.
First, decide whether you really want to check your cholesterol yourself. Going to your doctor or a laboratory may continue to be the best option if you feel uncomfortable administering a small blood test on yourself, or feel like you do not understand what test you are purchasing. Increasingly, however, individuals are becoming more comfortable self-administering tests and learning about basic tests like cholesterol.
Weâve written a short article on what markers you should get results for and what tests are most common for at home cholesterol monitoring. If youâre interested in purchasing your own at home cholesterol test, be sure to read our quick guide to common testing options here.
What Happens During A Cholesterol Test
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
Cholesterol tests are usually done in the morning, as you may be asked to refrain from eating for several hours prior to the test.
You may also be able to use an at-home kit to test for cholesterol. While instructions may vary between brands, your kit will include some kind of device to prick your finger. Youll use this device to collect a drop of blood for testing. Be sure to follow the kit instructions carefully.
Also, be sure to tell your health care provider if your at-home test results shown your cholesterol level is higher than 200 mg/dl.
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What Does It Mean If I Have High Cholesterol
A high cholesterol level may indicate a higher risk of plaque buildup, heart disease, and high blood pressure. This isnât always the case, though, since total cholesterol includes seemingly beneficial lipids such as HDL. So itâs best to talk with your healthcare provider to understand what high cholesterol may mean for your health. A lipid panel may help you better understand your current risk for cardiovascular events and what actions you may be able to take.
Can High Cholesterol Be Prevented Or Avoided
Making healthy food choices and exercising are two ways to reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol.
Eat fewer foods with saturated fats . Choose healthier fats. This includes lean meats, avocados, nuts, and low-fat dairy items. Avoid foods that contain trans fat . Look for foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These foods include salmon, herring, walnuts, and almonds. Some egg brands contain omega-3.
Exercise can be simple. Go for a walk. Take a yoga class. Ride your bike to work. You could even participate in a team sport. Aim to get 30 minutes of activity every day.
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Healthy cholesterol levels are a key component of cardiovascular wellness. The American Heart Association recommends getting tested every four to six years beginning at age 20a blood lipid panel includes your total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein , low-density lipoprotein , and triglycerides. If you have cardiovascular disease or elevated risk, you may need more frequent testing. After age 40, your doctor would recommend testing based on your calculated risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
These regular check-ins can guide your doctor’s assessment of whether you need to make lifestyle adjustments or take medication to keep your blood cholesterol within a healthy range.
Cholesterol testing today requires complex interpretation, where results help determine if medications ought to be started,” says Dr. J.D. Zipkin, Chief Medical Officer at GoHealth Urgent Care. “Patients should use at-home cholesterol test kits in conjunction with a medical evaluation and recommendation.”
Here are the best at-home cholesterol test kits that you can use in-between visits with your doctor.
Getting Started With A Home Cholesterol Test
Getting started with a home cholesterol test is one of the major determinants of a successful and accurate test. The steps are generally easy to perform. First, a home test will give you as many accurate results as a traditional lab test. You only just have to make sure that you ordered the kit from a reputable company and follow the instructions provided.
Most home cholesterol test kits come with essentially the same materials. Some of the test materials to expect from a lab test kit include:
- A DIY instruction material
- A medical grade collection card
- Envelope for returning both cards
- Band aid
- Alcohol swab
Most test kit companies require that you register your kit online to receive a code that allows you access and view your results on their platforms. The code also lets you track your cards and whether they have been received.
It is recommended that you do not eat or drink 812 hours before performing the test. You should take the test in the morning while ensuring that the time of the last meal, the previous day, is no less than 8 hours. Some kits are not fasting cholesterol tests so its important to follow the instructions.
It is advised that you drink a lot of water during those 8 hours, if possible.
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What Are The Symptoms Of High Levels Of Bad Cholesterol
High LDL cholesterol levels is not noticeable with symptoms this makes them difficult to detect without a test.
The bad cholesterol can, however, over time result in fatty buildup being deposited in the blood vessels. This calcification of the blood vessels increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.
How Often Should Cholesterol Be Checked
Cholesterol is a very important substance in our bodies. It helps to produce hormones, bare fat cells from the walls of blood vessels throughout your bodys system and even produces natural bi-products such as vitamin D when broken down by enzymes inside our organs! Cholesterols level can be raised due any number surgeries or accidents but also because we eat too much fast food which contains high amounts cholesterol per serving size. Most healthy adults should have their cholesterol checked every 4 -6 years though those who suffer with heart disease may need more frequent screenings so talk about this subject matter at hand before making decisions.
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How Do Home Cholesterol Tests Work
Some home cholesterol tests measure total cholesterol while others measure total cholesterol plus HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels. Make sure to read labels closely to know exactly what your kit will measure.
You can get a cholesterol test kit with or without a meter. Heres how they work:
Cholesterol kit without a meter: Cholesterol kits come with test strips and a lancet. A lancet is a small, fine blade or needle. You use it to prick your finger to draw a drop of blood. Place the drop of blood on a test strip. The strip will change colors after a minute or two. Compare your test strip color with the color guide that comes with your kit. It will tell you your cholesterol level.
Cholesterol kit with a meter. Newer cholesterol kits have an electronic meter much like blood glucose meters used for diabetes. Instead of waiting for your test strip to change colors, you insert it into your meter to measure your cholesterol. These kits cost more than the kits with paper strips only.
Mail-in kits. Some kits come with a pre-paid mailer like the American Diabetes Associations CheckUp America Cholesterol Panel. You take your blood sample at home and then send it to a lab. The lab delivers your results either by phone or on a secure website. One CheckUp America kit costs about $40.
How Can I Keep Healthy Blood Cholesterol Levels
Talk to your doctor about your numbers. Your risk of disease depends on other factors, too, in combination with high cholesterol. To keep your cholesterol managed, you should do the following:
- Choose healthy foods. Limit foods that are high in saturated or trans fats, sugar, and sodium . Choose foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruits and veggies, and in unsaturated fats, such as avocados and nuts. Learn more about healthy eatingexternal icon.
- Stay physically active. You should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as biking or brisk walking, every week.6Learn more about physical activityexternal icon.
- Dont smoke. Smoking damages the blood vessels and greatly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you smoke, learn how to quit.
- Take medicine if necessary. A healthy diet and physical activity can help many people reach healthy cholesterol levels, but some people may need medicines to lower their cholesterol. Always take your medicine as prescribed.
Learn more about ways to prevent high cholesterol.
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Easily Discover Your Personal Levels Of Total Cholesterol Hdl Calculated Ldl And Triglycerides
Your results will contain your personal levels of Total Cholesterol, HDL, Calculated LDL, and Triglycerides and whether they fall within a low, normal, or high range. We always encourage sharing the results of your test with your healthcare provider.
Everlywell can provide suggestions to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle. As always, we encourage you to share your results with a healthcare provider who can provide specific guidance on medication and lifestyle changes.
An Easy And Important Test
High cholesterol usually has no symptoms. Thats why its important to have your doctor check your cholesterol levels with a simple blood test.
It may be a “fasting” or “non-fasting” lipoprotein profile. Your doctor will tell you if you should fast before your test.
In the test, a health care professional takes a sample of your blood. If additional blood tests are needed, all the samples are usually taken at once. Discomfort is usually minor.
After the blood sample is taken, its analyzed in a laboratory, where the levels of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are measured. Your test report will show your cholesterol level in milligrams per deciliter of blood .
To determine your cardiovascular risk, your doctor will consider your cholesterol test results in context with your age, sex and family history. Other risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, will be considered as well. If your risk remains uncertain, and treatment options are unclear, your healthcare professional may consider other factors and/or request a coronary artery calcium measurement to provide greater insight into your risk and help in decision-making.
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What Are Triglycerides
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. Your body uses triglycerides for fuel when it needs extra energy. But high triglyceride levels may pose a risk to your heart health and may lead to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular disease. Thatâs because triglycerides can contribute to plaque formation in arteries, which can lead to a narrowing of the arteries. Your heart then has to work harder to pump blood to your organs and other body parts. Taking a lipid panel, which often includes triglycerides can tell you if your triglyceride levels are elevated.
How Accurate Are They
The Food and Drug Administration states that at-home tests they have approved are about as accurate as the tests done by your doctor if you follow the instructions correctly. These tests have information about the test’s accuracy printed on the product label.
However, note that for the majority of these devices, there is little published research about their accuracy.
The biggest challenge associated with home cholesterol testing is user error. This can lead to an inaccurate result.
Here are just a few of the things that can go wrong:
- Instructions: Were any of the instructions confusing?
- Fasting: Was fasting required and did you comply?
- Blood sample: Did you get an adequate drop of blood on the strip?
- Timing: Did you read it at the right time?
- Storage: Was the test kit stored at the right temperature?
- Expiration date: Was the kit within the expiration date?
- Reading: Was there any confusion about the colors on the test strip?
- Interpretation: Do you know what the results mean and whether you need to speak with your doctor?
This should not suggest that tests are excessively complicated. But you should know that one or two errors can lead to false results or misinterpretations.
If you get inconsistent results, see your doctor, who can check the values of your device or kit against an in-office test.
There are four at-home cholesterol tests currently approved by the FDA:
- Accutech CholesTrak
- Home Access Cholesterol Panel Kit
- Mission Cholesterol Test
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