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.
How Nuffield Health Can Help You Get A Blood Test
At Nuffield Health we offer a wide range of blood tests including ones that require fasting.
Our range of in-depth Health Assessments include a variety of common blood tests that will give you a clear picture of your overall health and fitness.
If youre looking for a specific blood test or have been referred for a test by a medical professional, you can easily book and purchase blood tests online through our pathology direct service.
Contact us about blood tests at Nuffield Health
Fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you within one working day. If it’s urgent, you can call us on 0300 123 6200.
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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How Early Can I Develop Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes usually does not occur until later in pregnancy, when the placenta is producing more of the hormones that interfere with the mothers insulin. Screening for gestational diabetes usually takes place between weeks 24 to 28, but women at high risk are likely to be screened in the first trimester.
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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It May Not Be Necessary To Fast Before A Routine Cholesterol Check A Large Community
This article is a collaboration between MedPage Today and:
It may not be necessary to fast before a routine cholesterol check, a large community-based population study suggested.
Overall, the mean cholesterol subclass levels varied by less than 2% for total cholesterol and high density lipoprotein cholesterol, by less than 10% for calculated low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and by less than 20% for triglycerides, reported Christopher Naugler, MSc, MD, of the University of Calgary in Alberta, and colleagues.
- It may not be necessary to fast before a routine cholesterol check.
- Note that the researchers found only a few statistically significant differences among cholesterol subclass levels for fasting intervals when compared with either a 9- to 12-hour fasting time or a greater than 8-hour fasting time.
“This finding suggests that fasting for routine lipid level determinations is largely unnecessary,” they said in the Nov. 12 Archives of Internal Medicine.
The finding is not new and corroborates results from smaller observational studies.
Naugler and colleagues noted that fasting is inconvenient for patients and “may discourage compliance with routine screening programs.”
They also suggested that eating before cholesterol testing can highlight insulin resistance, which is “associated with worse postprandial lipid or lipoprotein clearance.” In addition, high triglyceride levels after eating are “excellent predictors of insulin resistance.”
Cholesterol And Lipid Tests
A cholesterol test looks at the various levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood.
Lipids and cholesterol are fat-like substances in the body. If you have high levels of these fats, you are more at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
The test is one way of seeing if you are at risk and how you should be treated.
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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 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.
Doctors recommend complete fasting of 9 to 12 hours before taking a cholesterol test. Only water is allowed during fasting as any solid food or beverage could cause a change in the triglyceride levels.
In addition, they also recommend not exercising strenuously and strictly avoiding alcohol two days before the cholesterol test as it may cause a surge in the triglyceride levels. Sometimes, an increase in HDL levels in the blood is also observed and hence the results of the actual cholesterol content may not be very accurate. Sometimes, the doctor may also ask you to stop medications temporarily in case the ingredients in the medicine can affect cholesterol levels.
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Does A Person Need To Do Anything Else To Prepare For A Cholesterol Test
Before a person has their cholesterol test, they should inform a healthcare professional about their family history of heart health and any symptoms or medical conditions they are currently experiencing.
The person should also let the healthcare professional know about any medications, vitamins, herbal remedies, or supplements that they are taking.
If the person is taking any medications that may affect their cholesterol levels, the healthcare professional may ask them to stop taking them for a period of time before their test.
The person should only stop taking their medication if the healthcare professional asks them to and while under medical supervision.
A cholesterol blood test will measure the amount of each of the following in a persons blood:
- Total cholesterol: This is the sum of the cholesterol content in the blood.
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: This is the type of cholesterol that contributes to the buildup of fats within the arteries, leading to a
- help protect a person from experiencing a stroke or heart attack. It carries the LDL back to the liver, which can break it down and help remove it from the body.
- Triglycerides: These store excess energy from a persons diet and can contribute to the buildup in a persons arteries.
According to the , the ideal levels of each type are as follows:
Can You Reverse Gestational Diabetes
There is no need for gestational diabetes to take away from the joys of pregnancy. Unlike other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes usually goes away on its own and soon after delivery blood sugar levels return to normal, says Dr. Tania Esakoff, clinical director of the Prenatal Diagnosis Center.
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Common Fasting Blood Tests
Examples of blood tests that may require you to fast include:
- a fasting blood glucose test you may be asked to fast for 8 to 10 hours before the test
- an iron blood test you may be asked to fast for 12 hours before the test
For more information about a wider range of blood tests, go to Lab Tests Online.
Can You Drink Alcohol If Youre Fasting Before A Blood Test
Some blood tests, such as those that assess liver health or triglyceride levels, may require you to not drink any alcohol for a full 24 hours. Trace amounts of alcohol can remain in your bloodstream for several days. If you have any concerns about alcohol consumption, discuss this with your doctor when you schedule your test.
Also ask your doctor if you can smoke cigarettes before the test, or if you should refrain from smoking during your fast.
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How Do I Prepare For My Cholesterol Test
If your doctor recommends a “non-fasting” cholesterol test, the lab will look only at your total cholesterol numbers. For that test, you merely need to show up at the lab and have some blood drawn. If your doctor suggests a “fasting” cholesterol test , the lab will analyze your levels of LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. For that test, you will need to fast nine to 12 hours before the blood test.
Sometimes a doctor will ask you to do a non-fasting cholesterol test first. Depending on the results, they may then send you back for the more complete lipid profile.
What Should You Not Eat The Day Before A Blood Test
What should you not eat the day before a blood test? Blood glucose tests are either random or fasting tests. For a fasting blood glucose test, you cant eat or drink anything but water for eight hours before your test. You may want to schedule a fasting glucose test first thing in the morning so you dont have to fast during the day.
What should you not eat the night before blood work? Fasting before a blood draw means you dont eat or drink anything except water. Dont wait until the day of your blood draw to ask if you should fast. That could cause your appointment to be rescheduled. If at any point youre unsure if fasting is required, contact your doctor.
Does what you eat the day before affect blood work? McKnight also mentioned the food or drinks you consume the day or night before a blood test does not impact your test results, unlike what you eat or drink the morning of your test. Its recommended that you avoid coffee and other liquids during your fast, McKnight said.
What can you not eat 24 hours before blood work? To ensure accurate results, people are asked not to eat anything on the morning of the test. Some people may take iron supplements or multivitamin tablets that contain iron. These can also affect results. If a person regularly takes these supplements, they should not take them for 24 hours before the iron blood test.
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Is It Ok To Drink Water Before A Blood Test
Its fine to drink water before a blood test, unless youre instructed otherwise by your doctor. This is different from some surgical procedures, which may require you to have a totally empty stomach.
Tap or bottled water are both OK, but leave the squeeze of lemon for another time. Seltzer and club soda are off-limits. Carbonated beverages, flavored or otherwise, shouldnt be consumed during a fast, and neither should any type of tea.
Why Do I Have To Fast
Nutrients in food and drinks go into your bloodstream and can change things measured by the tests, skewing your results.
For instance, if you eat or drink before a fasting blood glucose test, your blood sugar probably will be higher than if you hadn’t had anything. When you’re fasting, doctors get a baseline result so tests can be compared to give a true picture of your sugar levels over time.
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Dr Oz: Skip Nail Polish During Melanoma Exam
If youve got an appointment with your dermatologist, be sure to remove your nail polish. According to Dr. Erin Gilbert, melanoma could be hiding behind your manicure.
Often, deadly melanoma is mistaken for a bruise, and thats one mistake you dont want to make. Be sure to check your nails for streaks and dark spots, and be sure your dermatologist can see them, too.
What You Need To Know About Fasting Lab Tests
If youre not feeling well and your doctor isnt sure why, he or she may order lab tests to help better understand whats going on inside your body. One test they may order is a fasting lab test. Before this blood test, you may be asked to stop eating or drinking for a few hours before.
While not all lab tests require it, some tests require fasting for the most accurate results. Most of the time, this means youll be asked to stop having any food or liquid between eight to 24 hours before your lab test or bloodwork, depending on the test.
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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.
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.
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Will Eating Or Fasting Affect The Results
According to the American Heart Association , in the past, healthcare professionals have recommended that people fast for 912 hours before having a cholesterol test.
The United Kingdoms National Health Service explains that there are two ways to measure someones cholesterol.
One method is a finger prick test. In this, a person pricks their finger and places a drop of blood on a strip of paper. This strip of paper then goes into a machine that checks the cholesterol levels within minutes.
Another method involves taking blood from the arm. In this, a healthcare professional will draw blood from the arm and send the sample to a laboratory for the results. This method may require a person to fast.
However, a paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that for people aged 20 years and older who are not taking cholesterol lowering medications, there seems to be little difference between fasting blood tests and non-fasting blood tests in terms of their accuracy and ability to estimate cardiovascular risk.
The foods that people eat can affect the level of triglycerides in their blood. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. According to the paper above, a fasting blood test may be necessary when the results of a non-fasting blood test indicate a triglyceride level of 400 milligrams per deciliter or higher.