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How Long To Fast Before Cholesterol Panel

Fasting For Blood Tests

Cholesterol Testing, To Fast or Not To Fast?

Many people know they have to fast before a blood test, but they do not know why they should be fasting for blood tests. Not all tests require it, so it is a good idea to ask your doctor to confirm if you should fast before the test. Fasting is important because what you eat may change test results. There will be a change in your blood cholesterol and levels of triglycerides if you have the lab work done after eating something. Similarly, if you eat sugar before getting your blood sugar tested, you will get inaccurate reading. Heres the importance of fasting and the right way to fast before tests.

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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.

    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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    What Is A Lipid Panel

    A lipid panel measures levels of different kinds of fats in the blood.;

    • Total cholesterol, which is the amount of the different types of cholesterol added together. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that the body needs some of. But too much cholesterol can cause problems.
    • High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often called “good” cholesterol. HDL helps the body get rid of extra cholesterol.
    • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often called “bad” cholesterol. LDL that builds up in the bloodstream can clog blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.
    • Triglycerides, which store energy until the body needs it. If the body holds on to too many triglycerides, blood vessels can get clogged and cause health problems.

    New Guidelines Simplify Cholesterol Tests: No Fasting Needed

    How to Fast Before a Blood Cholesterol Test

    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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    When To Get Tested

    Screening;when no risk factors present: for adults, every four to six years; for children, teens and young adults, once between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between ages 17 and 21

    Monitoring: at regular intervals when you have risk factors, when prior results showed high risk levels, and/or to monitor effectiveness of treatment

    Your Cholesterol Test Results

    Once you’ve had your test, what do the numbers mean?

    For total cholesterol:

    • 200 milligrams per deciliter or less is normal.
    • 201 to 240 mg/dL is borderline.
    • More than 240 mg/dL is high.

    For HDL , more is better:

    • 60 mg/dL or higher is good — it protects against heart disease.
    • 40 to 59 mg/dL is OK.
    • Less than 40 mg/dL is low, raising your chance of heart disease.

    For LDL , lower is better:

    • Less than 100 mg/dL is ideal.
    • 100 to 129 mg/dL can be good, depending on your health.
    • 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline high.
    • 160 to 189 mg/dL is high.
    • 190 mg/dL or more is very high.

    For triglycerides, lower is better:

    • 150 mg/dL or less may be the goal your doctor recommends, though the American Heart Association suggests that a lower level is best for health.
    • 151 to 200 mg/dL means youâre on your way to a higher risk for heart disease.
    • More than 200 mg/dL means you have a higher risk of heart disease.

    Your doctor will consider your overall likelihood of heart disease to set your personal LDL goal. For people who are at higher risk of heart disease or who already have it, your LDL should be less than 100 mg/dL.

    If you have a moderately high chance of heart disease, an LDL less than 130 mg/dL is your target. If your risk of heart problems is fairly low, less than 160 mg/dL is probably fine.

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    Do You Need To Fast Before A Cholesterol Test

    July 17, 2014 — Do you really need to check your cholesterol levels on an empty stomach? New research suggests checking your cholesterol even if youâve eaten gives you similar information.

    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 didnât matter if the test was taken after fasting overnight or after eating.

    “Based on the clinical guidelines, we’ve 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. It’s a lot of inconvenience, for the patient and also for us. We’re able to start therapy only when we know their results. And we lose patients who simply drop out because they don’t 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.

    What Might Happen Next

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    What happens next will depend largely on the results of the test and other risk factors that a person may or may not have.

    If the cholesterol levels do not suggest any potential health problems, a doctor is likely to recommend no further action or testing.

    If a persons cholesterol levels are high, a doctor may recommend that the person makes lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or changing their diet. The doctor may prescribe medications, such as statins, to lower cholesterol.

    Additionally, a doctor may recommend more frequent cholesterol testing.

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    When Is It Ordered

    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
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Being physically inactivenot getting enough exercise
  • Age
  • Hypertension
  • 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.


    What You Can Do About Abnormal Lipid Levels

    Lifestyle changes are the first thing to tackle to reduce your chance of heart disease. Your doctor may also recommend that you start taking prescription drugs to help your cholesterol level.

    Lifestyle habits to lower cholesterol

    A cholesterol-lowering diet can bring down bad cholesterol by up to 30%. A diet low in saturated fat and simple carbohydrates and that has no more than 200 miliigrams of cholesterol daily can lower LDL cholesterol. Fiber and plant sterols help, too.

    Keep these dietary tips in mind:

    • Cut saturated fat to less than 7% of your total calories.
    • Avoid trans fat completely. Check the ingredients label for âpartially hydrogenatedâ oils. Those are trans fats. Even if a product says “0 grams trans fat,” it can have a small amount of trans fat , and that adds up.
    • Read food labels. Products that say âlow cholesterolâ or âno cholesterolâ could be too high in saturated fats or sugar.

    Regular aerobic exercise can lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol . If you smoke, quit.

    Lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and weight loss are also effective ways to improve your triglyceride levels. Ask your doctor for a sensible diet that will help. If you smoke, get suggestions on ways to help you quit.

    Medications and procedures

    Your doctor may prescribe:

    Statins available in the U.S. are:

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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 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

    How Is The Test Used

    Fasting Before a Blood Test: How Long to Fast and More

    The lipid panel is used as part of a cardiac risk assessment to help determine your risk of heart disease and to help make decisions about what treatment may be best if you have borderline risk, intermediate risk, or high risk. Initial screening may involve only a single test for total cholesterol and not a full lipid panel. However, if the screening cholesterol test result is high, it will likely be followed by testing with a lipid panel.

    The results of the lipid panel are considered along with other known risk factors of heart disease to develop a plan of treatment and follow-up. Depending on the results and other risk factors, treatment options may involve lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise or medications that lower lipid levels, typically;statins.

    Additionally, a lipid panel may be used to monitor whether treatment has been effective in lowering cholesterol levels.

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    What If I Accidentally Eat Or Drink Before My Blood Test

    If you have been instructed to fast before your blood test and you accidentally eat or drink something during the fasting window, it is important to notify your healthcare provider or the person drawing your blood. If you dont, your results could be incorrectly interpreted.

    It may be possible for your healthcare provider to interpret the non-fasted test results. Most likely, they will instruct you to reschedule the blood test at a time when you will be able to successfully complete the fast before the test.

    Your physician will let you know the steps you need to take before your blood test, including whether or not fasting is required and for how long. By following all testing instructions and best practices , you can ensure a smooth testing process and the most accurate results.

    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
    • Borderline: 150 to 199
    • 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.

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    Why Should You Not Take Alcohol Before A Cholesterol Test

    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. ;

    If the cholesterol test is carried out for measuring LDL and total cholesterol, overnight fasting is not compulsory though it is better to avoid alcohol under any circumstances. Inform your doctor in case you had undergone a bone scan or thyroid test in the past week before going for the blood test for cholesterol.

    The desirable cholesterol level in the blood is total cholesterol reading less than 200 mg/dL. If the reading indicates a level more than 240 mg/dL, the patient is warned of a high risk of heart diseases, stroke and artery blockage. Such individuals should avoid consuming saturated or trans-fats and shift to polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats to reduce the risk factor.;

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    How To Prep For This Test

    No Need to Fast Before Cholesterol Blood Test

    If you dont have to fast, doctors still advise steering clear of fatty foods the night before the test. Both fasters and nonfasters should skip alcohol for at least 24 hours beforehand.

    Research suggests that heavy exercise can affect the results, so some doctors recommend skipping the gym on the day of your test. You may also need to avoid certain medications.

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    Fasting Before A Lipid Panel Test

    Lipid panel is a test done to determine the cholesterol levels in the human body. High cholesterol levels can prove to be fatal, as they may arise the risk of heart attack and diabetes. One needs to fast before taking this test. This HealthHearty article will give you the necessary information required to be well prepared before you go for a lipid profile.

    Lipid panel is a test done to determine the cholesterol levels in the human body. High cholesterol levels can prove to be fatal, as they may arise the risk of heart attack and diabetes. One needs to fast before taking this test. This HealthHearty article will give you the necessary information required to be well prepared before you go for a lipid profile.

    Lipid panel, or lipid profile, is another name for a complete cholesterol test which helps identify the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in blood. This further helps detecting the risk of heart failure and other diseases. If the bloodstream has high cholesterol levels, then there are chances that your arteries have high buildup of plaque, which can lead to narrowed and/or blocked arteries in your body, causing heart failure or peripheral artery disease.

    Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About Fasting Before A Blood Test

    Be sure to talk to your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about fasting.

    You should talk to your provider before taking any lab test. Most tests don’t require fasting or other special preparations. For others, you may need to avoid certain foods, medicines, or activities. Taking the right steps before testing helps ensure your results will be accurate.

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    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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