How Does Fasting & Not Fasting Affect Your Cholesterol Test
The human body produces a fatty material called cholesterol, which is essential for maintaining proper body functions. Certain foods also contain cholesterol. But, the human body needs a normal level of cholesterol. Increased levels of cholesterol in the human body raise the risk of heart diseases and other health problems.
Every individual must know about their cholesterol level to maintain good health! It is essential to perform the blood test and check the cholesterol level in the blood to prevent chronic health conditions. The doctors advise the patients to prepare for the tests before collecting the blood sample.
How To Do Intermittent Fasting To Lower Cholesterol
To prevent heart disease, you want your LDL to be lower and have a highertriglyceride to HDL ratio.
Intermittent fasting canhelp to lower cholesterol in several ways:
- Fasting lowers blood sugar and insulin
- Fasting reduces inflammation and oxidative stress
- Fasting helps with weight loss
- Fasting promotes tissue healing and rejuvenation
Heres how to do intermittent fasting for cardiovascular health:
- Practice time-restricted feeding daily by eating your food within 6-8 hours. This creates a fasting window wherein your body can heal itself.
- Extended fasts for 3-5 days can be effective in losing weight rapidly and lowering blood sugar. They can also raise your cholesterol levels, as we discussed. So, dont freak out because of that and wait until youve refed yourself.
- Incorporate physical exercise. Its one of the best ways of promoting cardiovascular health and increasing blood circulation.
- Avoid processed inflammatory foods. Dont eat vegetable oils, trans fats, processed grains, sugar, and too many carbohydrates as they raise triglycerides and cause inflammation.
- Get plenty of low carb vegetables and healthy fats. They can protect against atherosclerosis. Eat cruciferous vegetables and fatty fish like salmon.
- Sleep enough and practice stress management. Too much stress and sleep deprivation will promote insulin resistance, raise blood sugar, and promote fat gain, which can all lead to heart disease.
How Is Cholesterol Measured
Your cholesterol test, sometimes called a lipid profile test, will look at the different types of fats in your blood. This includes your total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Advanced cholesterol test Although not very common, an advanced cholesterol test will look at your LDL particle size and number and the main protein in lipoproteins called apolipoprotein. This is thought to be a better predictor of your heart disease risk rather than the total amount of LDL cholesterol you have.
If you have more small, dense LDL particles it can mean youre at an increased risk of heart disease. So even if your total and LDL cholesterol isnt particularly high, if you have a lot of smaller LDL particles you could be at an increased risk of heart disease. Large and fluffy LDL particles arent thought to be as harmful.
Apolipoprotein B is the main protein found in LDL cholesterol. Each LDL particle has one apoB so its another way to measure how many LDL particles you have. Some tests will also check apolipoprotein A-1, the main protein found in HDL cholesterol.
The techniques required to test your LDL particle size is very technical so it isnt commonly tested for. But its usually possible to predict particle size by dividing your triglycerides level by your HDL cholesterol level . Another way to assess your heart health is by measuring the inflammation in your body with a CRP test.
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An End To The Dreaded Overnight Fast
Guidelines for lipid panels have evolved over the past decade, supported by evidence from studies involving hundreds of thousands of people. Most recommendations now support non-fasting cholesterol tests for routine testing.
Some fasting lipids tests will remain necessary, especially in people with very high triglycerides. And some people will still need to fast for blood sugar levels, although an alternative test for diabetes has replaced much of this testing. But for most, including those having routine cholesterol tests to weigh cardiovascular risk and for those taking drug therapy, this news is good news.
So ask your doctor if you really need to skip breakfast before your next blood draw. Traditions die hard, but both science and convenience may ultimately steer this one to its end. This is one change doctors and patients should celebrate together.
Farewell To The Fasting Cholesterol Test
- By Naomi D. L. Fisher, MD, Contributor
ARCHIVED CONTENT:;As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.;
At a recent meeting I offered a visitor lunch which she declined with obvious regret. She was hungry, and it was noon. But she was headed to her annual physical, and eating beforehand would mean returning another morning for a fasting cholesterol level. Most of us can relate to her annoyance, but thankfully this may soon be a thing of the past.
Doctors have traditionally ordered cholesterol tests to be drawn after an overnight fast. But this requirement causes a significant burden on both sides of the health care equation. Most people hate to fast. Skipping meals is particularly difficult for active people, people with diabetes, and children. Yet coming back for another visit is even more of a hassle, so many people just dont bother. And it has been a drain for doctors, too, resulting in repeat test orders, phone calls, and patient visits.
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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.
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.
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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 test’s accuracy.
More Evidence That Fasting Not Needed Before Cholesterol Tests
This page was fact checked by our expert Medical Review Board for accuracy and objectivity. Read more about our editorial policy and review process.
A new analysis recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine adds to the evidence that people may not have to fast before blood tests to check their cholesterol and other lipid levels. Researchers from Brigham and Womens Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Imperial College in London reviewed data from a study called the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes TrialLipid Lowering Arm for their analysis.
Blood tests to check lipid levels, including total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, are done routinely to help determine a persons risk of heart disease and to decide if and what treatment is necessary. Adults are usually instructed to fast for 9 to 12 hours before these tests, which are typically done together as a lipid panel.
The analysis found little difference between the fasting and non-fasting lipid results from the same individuals, according to the authors. The only difference was moderately higher triglyceride levels in non-fasting samples, which was expected. The researchers also found that fasting and non-fasting lipid levels had similar associations with coronary events. Non-fasting lipid levels reflected risk for heart disease similar to fasting levels.
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What Does A Cholesterol Test Measure
In addition to measuring the total cholesterol in your blood, the standard cholesterol test measures three specific kinds of fat:
- Low-density lipoproteins . This is the “bad cholesterol,” the main cause of plaque build-up, which increases your risk for heart disease. In general, the lower the number, the better. But LDL cholesterol is only one part of a larger equation that measures a personâs overall risk of having a heart attack or stroke. For years, guidelines focused on specific target numbers for individuals to achieve to lower their risk. The most recent guidelines focus on a personâs overall risk and, based on that risk, recommend a certain percentage of LDL reduction as one part of a strategy for preventing serious heart and vascular problems.
- High-density lipoproteins . This is the “good cholesterol.” It transports bad cholesterol from the blood to the liver, where it is excreted by the body. Your HDL is another part of the equation that identifies the risk of a cardiovascular event. In general, the higher the number the better, although, as with LDL, the emphasis has shifted from specific target numbers to strategies for reducing the overall risk.
- Triglycerides. Another type of fat in the bloodstream, triglycerides are also linked to heart disease. They are stored in fat cells throughout the body.
Fasting Before Performing A Lipid Profile Test Gives Accurate Results
It is essential to analyze the individual values of the cholesterol test and not only the total cholesterol level! HDL and LDL levels in the cholesterol test are the primary indicators of heart risks. The doctor counts the individual values to interpret the final results and get a better idea about the potential risks. The doctor will be unable to calculate the individuals cholesterol values if the person fails to fast, which will scale up the risk factors!
In the initial phase, the doctor may recommend for non-fasting cholesterol test to get the total cholesterol value. The doctor may recommend for lipid profile test after the reviewing the results. But, for a lipid profile test, individuals need to fast for around 8-12 hours before the blood test. The lipid profile test will analyze the levels of HDL, LDL, and Triglycerides along with the total cholesterol level in the blood.
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Ideal Cholesterol Test Results
As you have known about the factors that control and affect your cholesterol test readings, you need to know the ideal levels of HDL, LDL and total cholesterol in the blood. These are â
- Total Cholesterol: 6.9%
- HDL : 12.4%
- LDL : 9.5%.
Anything higher or lower than this will indicate high or low cholesterol levels and would require significant lifestyle changes. You should consult with your doctor regarding your cholesterol test results to get the correct picture of your health.
What Is My Risk Of A Heart Attack If I Have High Cholesterol
High cholesterol increases your risk of a heart attack. The higher the cholesterol, the higher the risk. However, many other factors also affect your risk of a heart attack, such as smoking, diabetes, age, and high blood pressure. For more information on related risk factors, read the American Heart Association’s article Understand Your Risk for High Cholesterol.
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Will Coffee Affect A Cholesterol Test
Understanding your overall cholesterol number and the worths of its 2 parts can help you understand your danger for heart disease and enable you to make lifestyle changes prior to any unfavorable events happen.
Although clients are advised to abstain from food prior to having actually blood drawn for lipid analysis, many still drink coffee in the early morning. It is unknown whether coffee taken in prior to drawing blood samples will affect fasting serum lipids.
To figure out whether a single 6-oz cup of coffee with or without the addition of nondairy creamer and sugar will significantly impact fasting plasma lipid profiles.
This was a potential, open-label, randomized crossover research study. At the first of 2 gos to, blood was drawn to measure initial fasting lipid panels, and participants were randomized to consume 6 oz of black coffee or coffee with nondairy creamer and sugar.
Within 30-60 minutes of coffee intake, blood was drawn for follow-up lipid panels. The treatment was repeated at the second check out, except the individuals were crossed over to receive the alternate coffee preparation.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
Study Ethics Approval And Funding
The study protocol and ethics were reviewed, approved and audited by SingHealths Centralised Institutional Review Board . Informed consent was obtained for all subjects, and we complied with all the institutions ethical guidelines. The study was funded by;the SingHealth Polyclinics Research Support Programme.
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Where To Get A Cholesterol Test
NHS cholesterol testThe NHS offers blood tests that can be done at your GPs or a local hospital. A trained nurse or doctor will take your blood, usually a venous sample.
Home cholesterol test Its possible to order a home cholesterol test kit online and do it yourself. For this test, youll use a lancet to collect a finger-prick blood sample. Your results will be reviewed by a GP and are available for you to view online.
Fasting And High Cholesterol
What if you have high cholesterol while fasting? That may happen, let meexplain.
If youre fasting, then youre breaking down a lotof triglycerides from your body fat, which can temporarily raise your bloodcholesterol.
Dave Feldman is an engineer who does research on cholesterol. Hes used his Cholesterol Drop Protocol or the Feldman Protocol to drop his cholesterol blood test results significantly by increasing his dietary fat intake by orders of magnitude prior to the test. This goes against common medical advice that recommends lowering cholesterol by avoiding saturated fat and eating low fat.
He would eat very fewcalories for 3 days, mimicking fasting conditions and losing a lot of body fat.On the morning of day 4 he would get a blood test, showing significantly highlevels of cholesterol. After that, he would eat a lot of ketogenic foods withcholesterol and saturated fat and see his cholesterol levels drop again in thenext test.
This experiment hasbeen replicated by hundreds and thousands of people online and theyve seen howconsuming more fat doesnt affect their overall cholesterol levels that much.Its ironic that the lower your fat intake, the higher your cholesterol can endup be and vice versa.
The reason fasting raises cholesterol in this scenario has to do with the loss of body fat. Higher cholesterol again promotes tissue healing and muscle maintenance.
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