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How Do Doctors Check Your Cholesterol Level

Risks Of Untreated High Cholesterol

How Often Do Women Really Need to Check Cholesterol Levels?

High cholesterol often produces no signs and symptoms, but the health consequences can be severe.

When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the arteries alongside fat and other substances, forming deposits called plaque. The accumulation of plaque narrows the arteries and reduces and slows the blood flow to the heart. If the blood supply to any part of the heart becomes blocked, a heart attack can occur.

What Can I Do If I Am Not Reaching My Targets

If you are not reaching your cholesterol targets, ask your doctor what you can do. You may need to make additional healthy lifestyle changes, adjust the dose of your medication, change medications, or add a new medication. Tell your doctor if you have had any trouble with your medication, such as side effects or forgetting doses, or if you have stopped the medication on your own. This information can help your doctor select a more appropriate treatment and dose for you.

Use the Doctor Discussion Guide to help you prepare for your doctor’s visit.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

How It Is Done

The health professional taking a sample of your blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.

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Use Medications As Directed

Many people will need one or more medications to reach their cholesterol targets. Medications should be used in combination with healthy lifestyle changes. Keep taking your medication exactly as your doctor recommends. Even though you cannot feel it working, your treatment is helping you reach your targets.

Read “Staying motivated to reach your targets” in this feature for more help.

Fasting Before A Cholesterol Test

Lowercholesterol What Cholesterol Level Would Your Doctor ...

Ideally, you should fast before a cholesterol test. Fasting means not eating or drinking anything except water for up to 8-12 hours before your test. Doing your test in the morning can make this part of the process easier.

Fasting is important because a recent meal could affect your LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

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What Are Risk Factors For High Blood Cholesterol

Lifestyle, some health conditions, and family history can raise your risk for high cholesterol. Your doctor may suggest you have your cholesterol checked more often if you have risk factors, such as the following:

  • A family history of heart disease or high blood cholesterol. You are more at risk of having high cholesterol if other people in your family have it. This may be due to genetics, but it may also be that families share the same unhealthy lifestyle habits. Some people also have a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, which can cause high levels of low-density lipoprotein , or bad, cholesterol from a young age.
  • Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes raises bad cholesterol and lowers high-density lipoprotein , or good, cholesterol, raising the risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Older age. As you age, your body cant clear cholesterol as well as it used to.
  • Being male. Men tend to have higher LDL and lower HDL cholesterol levels than women do. But after menopause , LDL cholesterol levels in women increase.4,5
  • Having overweight or obesity. Excess weight, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of physical activity can lead to high cholesterol.
  • Previously having had high cholesterol. If you have a history of high cholesterol, your doctor may want you to keep a closer watch on your cholesterol.

Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before the test.

Knowing What To Look For In Medical Tests

  • 1Ask your doctor for a lipid panel.XTrustworthy SourceNational Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteResearch and education center within the National Institutes of HealthGo to source Because high cholesterol almost always presents with no signs or symptoms, the fastest and easiest way to detect it is via a blood test. Specifically, a lipid panel evaluates your HDL cholesterol, your LDL cholesterol, your total cholesterol, and your triglyceride levels .
  • It is a fasting blood test, meaning that you cannot eat or drink fluids other than water for nine to 12 hours prior to the blood test.
  • You may eat and/or drink immediately following the blood test.
  • For this reason, most people do the test first thing in the morning , and eat breakfast after the blood test is over.
  • 2Learn how to interpret your blood test results.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the worlds leading hospitalsGo to source When your blood test results come back from the lab, you will want to know whether they are concerning or not. Heres how to interpret your results:
  • HDL cholesterol: below 40mg/dL for men or 50mg/dL for women is poor, 50â59mg/dL is better, and above 60mg/dL is best. Ironically, HDL cholesterol is the one value where the higher numbers are more desirable.
  • LDL cholesterol: below 70â129mg/dL is desirable . 130â159mg/dL is considered borderline high, and above 160mg/dL is high.
  • Screening can then continue every five years thereafter, unless otherwise indicated.
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    Getting A Cholesterol Test

    We recommend that all adults should get a cholesterol check no matter what your age or how healthy you feel.

    The only way to know your cholesterol levels is to get a check. High cholesterol doesn’t usually have any signs or symptoms and it can be caused by your genes as well as your lifestyle, so we advise getting a check even if you are young, fit and feel healthy.

    A cholesterol check involves a simple blood test.

    Your doctor should also check another blood fat called triglycerides, as these also affect your heart health.

    A test will show you if you need to make healthy changes. High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks and strokes. A cholesterol test, along with other simple tests including a blood pressure test, BMI and waist measurement, will give you a good idea of your heart health and show you if you need to make any lifestyle changes or need treatment.

  • Get an NHS Health Check.
  • Why Monitor Your Cholesterol

    How to test & monitor your Cholesterol levels at home

    When you have your cholesterol levels checked with your doctor and continue to monitor them with a home-test kit, you will know when you may need to take steps, such as exercise, dietary changes, and even medication, to control them. As we mentioned above, high cholesterol levels are not beneficial to your health and can lead to serious trouble, including atherosclerosis , stroke, angina, and heart attack.

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    What If My Cholesterol Levels Aren’t Healthy

    As your LDL cholesterol gets higher, so does your risk of heart disease. Take these steps to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease:

    • Eat heart-healthy foods
    • Stay at a healthy weight
    • If you smoke, quit
    • If you have type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, take steps to manage it
    • Ask your doctor about taking medicine to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke

    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.

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    How Quickly Can You Improve Your Cholesterol Levels

    Your cholesterol levels are directly tied to your heart health, so its important to make sure theyre in a healthy range. If theyre not, youll need to work on raising your good cholesterol levels and lowering your bad ones . Medications can also improve your levels, but its best to make healthy changes that will improve your overall health and wellness.

    Some of the best ways to lower your LDL levels are by:

    • Eating heart-healthy foods and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
    • Reducing your intake of saturated fats and trans fats
    • Exercising most days of the week
    • Quitting smoking if you smoke
    • Losing weight
    • Drinking alcohol in moderation

    There are many factors that contribute to having high cholesterol levels, and your diet is a major one. However, genetics play a role too. If your levels are still high with a better diet and more exercise, your doctor may recommend medication to keep your levels in check.

    How Long Does it Take to Improve Cholesterol Levels?

    One of the great things about making healthy lifestyle changes is that you can see improvements fairly quickly. Most people see their levels improve within three to six months. Research shows that it takes longer for women, so dont be hard on yourself if your levels havent gone down as much as you want. Each body is different.

    How Often Should I Check My Cholesterol?

    What Causes High Cholesterol

    How do you test for cholesterol: The request could not be ...

    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 .

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    Why Is It Important To Measure Your Cholesterol Level Periodically

    • If you are over the age of 30 years, take a lipid profile test regularly to know your cholesterol levels for necessary lifestyle changes and medication, if necessary.
    • You should check your cholesterol every year if you are taking medicine to control your cholesterol levels, or if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.
    • If you have a family history of heart disease, cholesterol test is recommended every 5 years, beginning at the age of 20 years.

    Lowering Your Total And Ldl Cholesterol Levels

    Here are some things you can do:

    Lose weight if you are overweight.

  • Exercise regularly. For example, walk or ride a bicycle for 30 minutes at least three times a week.

  • Eat fewer high-fat foods, like butter, cheese, meat, and some vegetable fats . Foods that are high in saturated fat should be less than 7 percent of your total daily calories.

  • Eat more high-fiber foods, like vegetables, fruits, grains, and whole-grain breads, cereals, and pasta.

  • Your doctor can help you plan a heart-healthy diet. If exercising and changing your diet do not help enough, you might need to take a medicine to lower your cholesterol level.

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    Should I Check My Cholesterol Levels At Home

    How to Test Cholesterol at Home

    • Method 1 of 3: Using a Color-Coded Strip Test Kit. Choose a color-coded strip kit for a budget-friendly, basic option.
    • Method 2 of 3: Testing with a Digital Meter Kit. Invest in a digital tester if you need to check your cholesterol
    • Method 3 of 3: Seeking Medical Advice and Care. Share your at-home results with your doctor, especially

    Another Type Of Fat Found In The Blood Mainly From The Food We Eat

    How to Check Triglycerides & Cholesterol at Home

    Whats healthy? Less than 1.7 mmol/L ideally on a fasting sample, or less than 2.3 mmol/L on a non-fasting sample.

    What should I do? Very high triglyceride levels can cause a painful condition called pancreatitis. People can have raised levels for many reasons, but the most common reasons are lifestyle-related:

    • Being apple-shaped .
    • Developing or having type 2 diabetes.
    • Excessive alcohol consumption.

    You can keep your triglyceride levels low by losing weight, being more active and eating sensibly, especially by cutting back on alcohol, sugary foods and saturated fats, and eating more fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains.

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    Key Points About High Cholesterol

  • You cant tell or feel if you have high cholesterol.
  • Having your cholesterol checked is very simple.
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about your overall heart risk and what you can do to keep your heart and cholesterol numbers well controlled.
  • With treatment and lifestyle changes, the risks of complications from high cholesterol are much less.
  • If you need medication, take it every day as prescribed and ask questions if you dont understand anything.
  • What Do The Cholesterol Targets Mean

    Cholesterol targets are the cholesterol levels that you need to reach in order to reduce your risk of developing heart disease and its complications . Based on your risk of developing heart disease, your doctor will recommend target levels of different types of cholesterol.

    The most important cholesterol target is LDL-C , which is the “bad cholesterol” that clogs your arteries and increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Regardless of your level of heart disease risk, the goal is to lower your LDL-C by at least 50%. Your doctor can determine what specific number that should be for you.

    For people at moderate to high risk of developing heart disease, an “alternate” target is apoB and can cause inflammation in the blood vessels). The goal is to lower apoB to less than 0.80 g/L.

    Once you have met your LDL-C goal, your doctor may suggest other “secondary” targets such as:

    Cholesterol targets are used to guide your treatment and make sure that your treatment is doing enough to reduce your risk of developing heart disease and its complications.

    With the proper treatment plan, you can meet your cholesterol targets. It’s very important to use your medications exactly as prescribed so that you will be able to meet your targets. Read “How to reach your cholesterol targets” in this feature to learn more.

    Ask your doctor what your cholesterol targets are, whether you are reaching them, and what you can do if you are not reaching your targets.

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    Will This Recommendation Catch On In The United States

    Health care providers often do what they are used to doing, so it may take a while for some to change to nonfasting cholesterol tests. But we also need to realize that there are advantages to this evidence-based change. Switching to nonfasting cholesterol testing is actually the path of least resistance for patients and clinicians. It also provides a more accurate lipid profile for individual patients.

    I believe that getting the word out to clinicians, lab directors, and patients will be enough to make the switch to nonfasting cholesterol tests in a fairly short time.

    How To Save Money On At

    Watch your cholesterol!

    As you can see, the cost of home cholesterol tests varies greatly. Some go for less than the ones mentioned in this article, and others cost much more. To save money, consider what your goals are for cholesterol testing. Do you need to test regularly to see if your medication is working? Are you just curious about your heart health? Answering these questions can help you decide which kit is best for you.

    To save on the actual price of a kit:

    • Check the manufacturers website for specials

    • Look for coupons or promo codes online

    • Use funds from your flexible spending account or your health savings account

    • Compare prices on online pharmacies and with mega-retailers like Amazon and Walmart

    Over 100 million Americans have total cholesterol levels above the healthy level of 200 mg/dL. Of that number, more than 35 million have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher. Perhaps the best way to save money is to take an at-home cholesterol test, know your numbers, and start working with your doctor towards better heart health.

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    Don’t Get Stuck At A Roadblock

    If you run into a problem with your treatment, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. Most concerns can be resolved. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if:

    • you’re not sure if you’re on the most appropriate cholesterol medication
    • you’re worried about side effects
    • you’re not sure how to use your medication
    • you often forget doses of your medication
    • you’re having trouble fitting lifestyle changes into your routine
    • you’re not sure if your treatment is working
    • you’re feeling discouraged about your cholesterol treatment

    All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

    How Is A Total Cholesterol Test Different From A Lipid Panel

    A total cholesterol test measures only the sum of all kinds of cholesterol. A lipid panel includes the total cholesterol measurement but also determines the levels of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. For this reason, a lipid panel offers more detail and is more commonly used as a test for initial cholesterol screening.

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    What Are My Cholesterol Targets

    Your doctor will choose cholesterol targets for you. To learn more about cholesterol targets, see “What do the cholesterol targets mean?” in this feature. If you don’t know your cholesterol targets, ask your doctor to write them down. You can use the Cholesterol Diary to record your cholesterol targets and track your cholesterol levels over time.


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