Can You Check Cholesterol Without A Blood Test
During a cholesterol test procedure, a blood sample will have to be taken from a vein in your arm.
To do so, a tourniquet is tied around your arm just above the elbow. A needle is then inserted into a vein in your arm near the inside of your elbow. Once the needle is positioned, a small amount of blood is withdrawn and collected in a vial or a syringe.
After the blood is collected, the needle is removed from the vein, and the tourniquet is removed from your arm. A small cotton ball is pressed over the puncture site to stop any bleeding. A Band-Aid may be placed to protect clothing should a small amount of blood leak out of the puncture site.
How long does a cholesterol take?
Having blood tests drawn takes only a few minutes.
Does a cholesterol test hurt?
Blood tests cause a minimal amount of discomfort. Some people do have anxiety about having blood drawn and it may be worse than the pain of the procedure.
When Can I Eat Or Drink Again
As soon as your blood is taken, your fast is over. You might want to bring a snack and a drink with you so you can eat as soon as possible after the test.
American Academy for Clinical Chemistry: âBasic Metabolic Panel,ââComprehensive Metabolic Panel,ââGGT,ââGlucose Tests,ââIron Tests,ââLipid Profile,ââRenal Function Panel,ââVitamin B12 & Folate.â
British National Health Service: âCan I Eat and Drink Before Having a Blood Test?â
Crystal Moore, MD, PhD, FCAP, anatomical and clinical pathologist, Chesapeake, VA.
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: âWhat Are Blood Tests?â
Nemours Foundation: âBlood Test: Comprehensive Metabolic Panel .â
Providence Laboratory Services : âFasting Instructions.â
Can I Test My Own Cholesterol At Home
Its better to have your cholesterol tested by a professional because taking blood and measuring cholesterol levels is a skilled job and your results will be affected by the way you do the test. Going to a health professional means you will get an accurate reading.
We dont recommend home sampling, but if you do decide to test your cholesterol at home, follow these simple steps to take your sample safely and get a more accurate result.
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How Should I Prepare For My Cholesterol Test
If you arent already taking cholesterol medications, it may not be necessary to fast.
Depending on your situation, your doctor might recommend drinking only water and avoiding food, other drinks, and certain medications in order to make sure your results are accurate.
What else should you avoid? Alcohol. Drinking within 24 hours before your test can affect your triglyceride levels.
What Is A Lipid Panel Used For
Healthcare providers use lipid panels to help assess someones cardiovascular health by analyzing cholesterol in their blood and to help diagnose other health conditions.
Reasons a provider may order a lipid panel include:
- As a routine test to determine if your cholesterol level is normal or falls into a borderline-, intermediate- or high-risk category.
- To monitor your cholesterol level if you had abnormal results on a previous test or if you have other risk factors for heart disease.
- To monitor your bodys response to treatment, such as cholesterol medications or lifestyle changes.
- To help diagnose other medical conditions, such as liver disease.
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Whats Behind The New Recommendation
This change has been coming for some time. It is driven by data from a dozen-plus studies that include more than 300,000 people whose cholesterol and other lipids were measured when they hadnt fasted. Their levels predicted cardiovascular risk, as well as, or possibly better than, fasting lipid levels.
How Is A Cholesterol Test Done
Some cholesterol tests are done using a finger-prick blood sample, but more detailed testing means a blood sample needs to be collected from a vein in your arm.
You may need to fast for about 8 hours before taking the test. If so, your local community diagnostic laboratory or doctor will tell you about this. You can have your test done first thing in the morning to make fasting less inconvenient. You should still be allowed to drink water and take your normal medications do not stop taking these unless your doctor tells you to.
If you are taking blood-thinning medications , or have bleeding or clotting problems, tell the nurse or laboratory staff about this before the blood sample is taken.
How To Test Your Cholesterol Levels
To test your cholesterol levels, you need to collect a blood sample. The two main ways to do this are to do:
- a venous blood test a trained professional will use a needle to puncture a vein, usually in your arm, to collect a blood sample.
- a finger-prick blood test using a lancet, you can prick your own finger and collect a small blood sample.
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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.
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Why You Should Measure Your Cholesterol
While cholesterol is essential for your health, if it gets too high it might increase your risk of heart disease putting you at risk of things like a heart attack or stroke.
There are a number of things that can raise your cholesterol to an unhealthy level:
- eating foods high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats can increase your levels
- lack of exercise
- drinking too much alcohol
- a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolaemia
There arent any signs of high cholesterol until something goes wrong, like a heart attack. So measuring your cholesterol levels regularly is recommended.
Regular cholesterol tests are particularly important if you:
- are overweight or obese
- have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease
- have high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or diabetes
- are on medication for high cholesterol and need to track your levels
List Of Foods To Avoid Before A Cholesterol Test
In cardiovascular risk assessment, the lipid profile also known as Cholesterol Test is a vital investigation and it has become one of the routine tests in medical checkups. The lipid profile checks the level of total cholesterol, high density lipoproteins, low density lipoproteins and triglycerides.
High density cholesterol is known as Good Cholesterol and high levels of reference are recommended as healthy. Low density cholesterol is considered as Bad Cholesterol and patients are advised to keep it at a lower level. There are certain foods to be avoided before a cholesterol test, which are found to be causing an alteration in the cholesterol test. The test can be performed as a fasting test or a non-fasting test. Evidence suggests that the fasting lipid test will overcome the effect of elevated post-prandial triglyceride level. Patients should be provided with adequate information on foods to avoid before a cholesterol test.
In a fasting lipid profile, all patients should fast for 12 hours prior to the test.
- They must avoid eating any type of solid or semisolid food during these 12 hours. But it is important to state that the patient should continue drinking water and any medication he is on. After a meal, the calories of the foods are converted to triglycerides and they remain high in the blood for a significant number of hours. The need for fasting before the test is based on this concept.
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Where Should Cholesterol Be Checked
Its best for your primary care doctor to do the test. As noted, your cholesterol levels represent just one of many factors affecting your cardiovascular health. Your primary care physician will have a fuller understanding of your personal and family history, as well as any other risk factors that might apply.
If your cholesterol is checked at a public screening, they may measure your HDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. But if HDL cholesterol isnt measured, knowing your total cholesterol levels still gives you valuable information. Getting your blood cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index and fasting blood sugar measured regularly should be part of your overall personal care plan.
If you obtain cholesterol screening results from a source outside of your doctors office, be sure to share those with your primary care physician. Additional data points help to establish your cardiovascular risk. This is particularly important for people who smoke, have other health conditions such as diabetes or inflammatory conditions, or have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
Why Would I Need This Test
You might need this test if your doctor wants to assess your risk of developing heart disease. It is usually recommended every 5 years for people who are over 45 . If you have other risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure or diabetes, you will need the lipid test more regularly.
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What Do The Results Mean
The results will tell a doctor if the levels of cholesterol in a persons blood are healthy.
The test measures several types of cholesterol in a persons blood in mg/dl. It is possible to break down the results by type of cholesterol.
HDL results measure the amount of good cholesterol in a persons blood. Higher readings tend to be better than lower readings:
|60 mg/dl or higher|
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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Should I Be Concerned If I Have Abnormal Lipid Panel Results
If your lipid results reveal that you have high levels of total cholesterol, LDL and/or triglycerides and/or low levels of HDL, it doesnt necessarily mean that you have a medical condition or need treatment.
A healthy cholesterol range for you may depend on many factors. Your healthcare provider will take into consideration the following factors when interpreting your lipid panel results:
- Your age.
- Your current medications.
- Other risk factors you may have for cardiovascular disease.
Many providers use a special risk calculator using these factors to determine if you need further tests or treatment. If you have questions about your results, dont be afraid to talk to your provider.
When Would I Need A Fasting Lab Test
If you have one or more of these symptoms, your doctor may order a fasting lab test.
- Excessive urination and thirst
- A yellowish tint to your skin and/or eyes
- Fatigue and an irregular heartbeat
- Pale skin and leg cramps
- Non-specific symptoms that are difficult to diagnose
If youre having symptoms that just dont feel right, so they can request the appropriate tests.
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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.
What Do The Results Of A Lipid Panel Mean
Blood test reports, including lipid panel blood test reports, usually provide the following information:
- The name of the blood test or what was measured in your blood.
- The number or measurement of your blood test result.
- The normal measurement range for that test.
- Information that indicates if your result is normal or abnormal or high or low.
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Q: Can You Take Medication Before A Fasting Blood Test
A: You can take over-the-counter and prescription medications unless your doctor advises you otherwise. On that note, its definitely a good idea to tell your doctor about all medications and supplements youre taking to avoid something potentially skewing lab results.
Theres no indication that daily medications such as blood thinners and blood pressure meds will cause any problems with fasting bloodwork, so definitely continue taking them unless told otherwise. And if you have a headache, taking an ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain reliever shouldnt cause any issues.
What Is Being Tested
Lipids are a group of fats and fat-like substances that are important constituents of cells and sources of energy. A lipid panel measures the level of specific lipids in the blood.
Two important lipids, cholesterol and triglycerides, are transported in the blood by lipoproteins . Each type of lipoprotein contains a combination of cholesterol, triglyceride, protein, and phospholipid molecules. The particles measured with a lipid panel are classified by their density into high-density lipoproteins , low-density lipoproteins , and very low-density lipoproteins .
A lipid panel typically includes:
Some other information may be reported as part of the lipid panel. These parameters are calculated from the results of the tests listed above.
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Do You Need To Fast Before A Cholesterol Test
Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey III , Bethany Doran, MD, of the NYU School of Medicine, and her colleagues found that higher LDL levels were linked to a higher risk of death. And it didnÃ¢t matter if the test was taken after fasting overnight or after eating.
Based on the clinical guidelines, weve been advising patients to fast before a lipid panel, senior investigator Sripal Bangalore, MD, of the NYU School of Medicine, told heartwire. But we might see the patient today, tell the patient to fast and come back another day for the test, and then I have to wait for the results. Its a lot of inconvenience, for the patient and also for us. Were able to start therapy only when we know their results. And we lose patients who simply drop out because they dont have the time to come back again.
For the study, published in the journal Circulation, researchers looked at 8,598 people who measured their cholesterol levels in the NHANES III study and were followed for about 14 years.
Increasing LDL levels were linked to an increasing risk of death for any reason in those who were fasting or not before their cholesterol test. This same group also had a greater risk of death from heart and blood vessel disease.