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How Long To Fast Before Cholesterol Blood Test

Why Would I Need This Test

No Need to Fast Before Cholesterol Blood 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.

More Evidence That Fasting Not Needed Before Cholesterol Tests

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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.

Foods To Lower Cholesterol

The foods a person consumes can affect their cholesterol levels over time.

Some foods can help reduce cholesterol. For example, soluble fiber can bind with cholesterol in the digestive system and from the body. Additionally, polyunsaturated fats can help lower LDL levels.

According to Harvard Health, a person should aim to include the following in their diet:

  • barley

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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.

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How Does Fasting & Not Fasting Affect The Cholesterol Level

Can I Drink Water Before A Blood Test For Cholesterol

Fasting for 9-12 hours before collecting the blood sample for testing the cholesterol levels is a standard instruction advised by the doctor and as per the experts. Fasting for long hours before the sample collection provides the most accurate results in terms of knowing your cholesterol levels. Recent food consumption raises the Low-Density Lipoproteins- LDL level and triggers the level of Triglycerides in the blood and this how not fasting affects your cholesterol test.

Fasting for 9-12 hours before blood sample collection gives accurate test results of total cholesterol, protective HDL, harmful LDL and triglycerides and is a standard practice. But, many people dont like to fast for long hours, and it becomes critical for patients. Certain research eliminated the fasting requirement for certain groups after conducting several tests and studies. The individuals taking statins may not require fasting before the blood test for cholesterol level.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance made by the liver. Consuming certain foods with cholesterol increases the level of cholesterol. The increased level of cholesterol builds up in the arteries walls and hardens to create a blockage. The process called atherosclerosis makes blood flow in the arteries difficult creating pressure on the heart.

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Fasting For Blood Tests: Rules And Guidelines

If your doctor has confirmed that you should not eat anything before the test, you should not ignore their instructions. Here are some guidelines for fasting for a blood tests:

  • It is important that you do not eat or drink anything but water. You should not eat anything at least 8 hours prior to your test. It is important to fast for at least 12 hours if your doctor has ordered lipid tests. Water is allowed though.
  • You should not chew gum, smoke, or exercise before your test because all these activities can stimulate your digestive system and affect test results.
  • Avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours before your test.
  • You can take prescription medications unless your doctor advices against it. Certain medications, especially birth control pills can change your cholesterol levels, so you may want to stop taking them for a few days before the test. Your doctor may advise you to take the pills if they want to see its effect on your cholesterol levels.

It is important to note that you should fast for at least 8-12 hours depending on different tests, but avoid fasting beyond 14 hours because it will have a negative effect on the results. Just be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Why Do I Need A Cholesterol Test

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance. Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. But you take in more cholesterol from certain foods, such as those from animals. If you have too much cholesterol in your body, it can build up in the walls of your arteries and eventually harden. This process, called atherosclerosis, actually narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to travel through the vessels.

Unfortunately, high cholesterol doesn’t cause symptoms. In later stages of atherosclerosis, though, you may suffer angina — severe chest pain from lack of blood flow to the heart. If an artery gets totally blocked, a heart attack results. A routine blood cholesterol test is a far better way of finding out what your cholesterol level is.

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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 blood test 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.

Preparing For A Cholesterol Test

Fasting for Blood test| How Long Fast Before Glucose and cholesterol test

There are a couple of things you can do before a blood test so the process is as smooth as possible:

  • drink a lot of water being hydrated makes it easier to collect your blood sample and evidence shows that dehydration can affect your results
  • keep warm having a hot shower or jumping on the spot for a minute makes it easier to collect a finger-prick blood sample

You might also need to fast before doing a cholesterol test.

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Fasting Blood Glucose Test

A fasting blood glucose test can help diagnose diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition that can lead to excessive amounts of sugar in the blood. A fasting blood glucose test measures levels of sugar in the blood to see whether they are healthy.

It is important that an individual has not had anything to eat or drink other than water for 810 hours before a fasting blood glucose test. A person will typically fast overnight and do the test early in the morning.

Fasting helps ensure that the blood test records an accurate measure of fasting blood sugar levels. The results help a doctor diagnose or rule out diabetes.

Why Do Some Blood Tests Require Fasting

Certain blood tests require you to fast for 8-12 hours. The reason for asking you to fast is because when eat or drink beverages, certain nutrients, substances or vitamins enter into the bloodstream and can be responsible for giving a wrong result. Fasting before these advised blood tests ensures more accurate results.

Certain blood tests require you to not even drink water. Otherwise, drinking normal water will keep you hydrated and prevent your veins from collapsing, so drawing blood becomes easier since your veins are visible.

Avoid food, alcohol, soda or aerated drinks, tea, coffee, chewing gums and even exercising while fasting.

You need to consult your physician if you can take your regular dose of medications during fasting or adjust the dose timings for the purpose of fasting. This is because certain drugs can alter test results.

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Can Drinking Too Much Water Affect Blood Tests

Ideally, start drinking more fluids the day before your blood draw, and continue to drink water before you have your blood drawn. Excessive amounts arent necessary most sources ecommend that an adult drink 64 ounces of water per day for good health, which is more than adequate for having your blood drawn.

Fats And Cholesterol Level

How Long Do I Have to Fast Before Taking a Cholesterol ...

Since everyone’s digestive process is different and because many other factors can influence how long it takes for your body to digest food, there is no one set amount of time that it takes for the level of cholesterol and fat in the bloodstream to decrease. A general guideline is to fast between nine to twelve hours by consuming only water during that period, according to Cleveland Clinic 1. Fatty foods can actually affect triglyceride levels even more than cholesterol levels. Fats, alcohol and simple sugars can all drive triglyceride levels up for hours.

  • Since everyone’s digestive process is different and because many other factors can influence how long it takes for your body to digest food, there is no one set amount of time that it takes for the level of cholesterol and fat in the bloodstream to decrease.
  • Fats, alcohol and simple sugars can all drive triglyceride levels up for hours.

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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.

No Need To Fast Before Cholesterol Check

By Andrew M. Seaman, Reuters Health

3 Min Read

– Most people dont need to fast overnight before getting their blood drawn for a cholesterol test, according to a group of experts.

Cholesterol test results obtained one to six hours after a meal were not significantly different from results obtained after a fast, researchers found.

It could be implemented tomorrow with no problems at all, said lead author Dr. Borge Nordestgaard, of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Today, the key players for keeping the fasting procedure are the laboratories drawing the blood. They simply could change the procedure tomorrow, and then nobody would fast anymore. That is what we did in Denmark and patients, clinicians and laboratories were all happy with the change.

Nordestgaard told Reuters Health in an email that doctors essentially just always had patients fast before a cholesterol test. So people got used to it without questioning the fasting procedure, he said.

Typically, blood is drawn for a cholesterol test – known as a lipid panel – after a person has fasted for at least eight hours, the researchers write in the European Heart Journal.

In 2009, Denmark began using non-fasting cholesterol tests. One advantage, the researchers say, is that forgoing fasting simplifies the process for patients, doctors and laboratories. Also, patients are more likely to get the test.

SOURCE: European Heart Journal, online April 27, 2016.

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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.

When Is It Ordered

Health & Nutrition : How to Fast Before a Blood Cholesterol Test

Adults with no other risk factors for heart disease should be tested with a fasting lipid panel once every four to six years.

If you have risk factors or if previous testing showed that you had a high cholesterol level, more frequent testing with a full lipid panel is recommended.

Examples of risk factors other than high LDL-C include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Being physically inactivenot getting enough exercise
  • Age
  • Family history of premature heart disease
  • Pre-existing heart disease or already having had a heart attack
  • Diabetes or prediabetes
  • Children, teens, and young adults with no risk factors should have a lipid panel once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 21, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics .

    Children, teens, and young adults with an increased risk of developing heart disease as adults should have earlier and more frequent screening with lipid panels. Some of the risk factors are similar to those in adults and include a family history of heart disease or health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or being overweight. High-risk children should be tested between 2 and 8 years old with a fasting lipid panel, according to the AAP.

    Children younger than 2 years old are too young to be tested.

    For additional details on this, see the screening articles for Children, Teens, Young Adults, Adults, and Adults 50 and Up.


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    Things To Do To Reduce Cholesterol Before The Blood Test

    There are a handful of natural everyday modifications that you can implement into your daily routine to drop your cholesterol levels.


    From full-fat dairy and sugary beverages to processed madness, you simply must avoid this range of food-types if you want to take cholesterol-lowering seriously.

    • You can still consume meat. As long as you pair your meals with fresh fruits, whole grains, and veggies.
    • Plants rich in fibre are excellent choices, particularly soluble fibre.
    • Recommendations: berries, barley, beans , oats, yams.

    Plant Protein

    In close connection to the previous point, consuming plant-based protein is a step in the best direction.

    • Beans, beans, and more beans.
    • Recommendations: Pinto, soy, lentils, red.
    • Unlike animal protein, which raises blood pressure, beans are renowned for bringing it down.
    • They also reduce blood sugar and insulin levels that have led scientists to believe beans play a significant role in cancer prevention and treatment.

    Good Fat

    If youve heard the name omega-3 fatty acids, then you can be sure the Diet-Universe has spoken to you.

    • This is not just good fat, but great fat, owing in large part to how well it fights heart disease.
    • Food sources: sardines, herring, salmon, trout, mackerel, halibut.

    Below are some bad fats you absolutely need to avoid if you have any plans of getting your cholesterol under control.

    White Foods


    You knew this point was going to land at your door sooner or later.

    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:

  • Total cholesterolmeasures all the cholesterol in all the lipoprotein particles
  • High-density lipoprotein cholesterol measures the cholesterol in HDL particles often called good cholesterol because HDL-C takes up excess cholesterol and carries it to the liver for removal.
  • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol calculates or measures the cholesterol in LDL particles often called bad cholesterol because it deposits excess cholesterol in walls of blood vessels, which can contribute to atherosclerosis. Usually, the amount of LDL-C is calculated using the results of total cholesterol, HDL-C, and triglycerides.
  • Triglyceridesmeasures all the triglycerides in all the lipoprotein particles most is in the very low-density lipoproteins .
  • 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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