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How Long To Fast For A Blood Test Cholesterol

What About Fasting For A Blood Test During Pregnancy

Fasting Safely : How to Fast for a Cholesterol Screen

There are several blood tests you may need if youre pregnant. These are designed to assess any potential health concerns that you or your baby might experience during pregnancy or after you give birth. Some of these tests will require you to fast beforehand. Your doctor will advise you how to prepare for each test.

Fasting is usually safe if youre pregnant, provided youre in good health and arent having a high-risk pregnancy. For your overall comfort, your doctor may advise you to drink extra water or to remain indoors, especially if the weather is very hot or humid.

Fasting may increase heartburn in some pregnant women. If you experience uncomfortable or concerning symptoms of any kind while youre waiting to have your blood drawn, let your doctor know immediately.

If youre seeing a doctor other than your obstetrician-gynecologist, make sure they are made aware of your pregnancy before your blood test.

What Treatments Are Recommended If I Have Unhealthy Lipid Levels

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an important part of heart health and in treating high cholesterol. This may mean you will need to change your lifestyle, specifically by adopting a diet low in saturated fat and trans unsaturated fats , avoiding smoking, controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, and participating in moderate exercise. You may be referred to a dietician for advice in making dietary changes.

Your healthcare practitioner will talk to you about risks and benefits of statin drug therapy, based on your history, health risks, the results of your LDL-C;test, and possibly your calculated risk for CVD. Statins are generally recommended as a first choice for lowering LDL-C. You may be prescribed one of these. Your LDL-C will be checked at regular intervals to make sure that the drug is working. If the drug does not lower your LDL-C, your healthcare practitioner may increase the amount of drug or possibly add a second drug.

How Is The Test Used

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.

When Would I Need A Fasting Lab Test

New guidelines simplify cholesterol tests: no fasting needed

If you have one or more of these symptoms, your doctor may order a fasting lab test.

  • Excessive urination and thirst
  • A yellowish tint to your skin and/or eyes
  • Fatigue and an irregular heartbeat
  • Pale skin and leg cramps
  • Non-specific symptoms that are difficult to diagnose

If youre having symptoms that just dont feel right, so they can request the appropriate tests.

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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.

Fasting For Blood Tests

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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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.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know

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

There is increasing interest in measuring triglycerides in people who have not fasted. The reason is that a non-fasting sample may be more representative of the “usual” circulating level of triglyceride since most of the day, blood lipid levels reflect post-meal levels rather than fasting levels. However, it is not yet certain how to interpret non-fasting levels for evaluating risk, so at present there is no change in the current recommendations for fasting prior to tests for lipid levels.

A routine cardiac risk assessment typically includes a fasting lipid panel. Beyond that, research continues into the usefulness of other non-traditional markers of cardiac risk, such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein , lipoprotein A ), Lp-PLA2,;LDL particle testing , apolipoprotein A-1 and apolipoprotein B. A healthcare practitioner may choose to evaluate one or more of these markers to help determine someone’s risk, but there is no consensus on their use and they are not widely available. For a more detailed discussion on these, see the article on Cardiac Risk Assessment.

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    How Often Should Cholesterol Be Checked

    The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years as long as their risk remains low. After age 40, your health care professional will also want to use an equation to calculate your 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke.;

    People with cardiovascular disease, and those at elevated risk, may need their cholesterol and other risk factors assessed more often.

    Your doctor will explain what your cholesterol levels mean and can discuss treatment options if your numbers are not where they should be.

    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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    Fasting And Cholesterol Tests

    For many years, fasting prior to cholesterol tests was recommended in every case. However, increasingly, doctors are reconsidering this recommendation. Research suggests that food intake doesnt affect the accuracy of measurements for total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL.

    That said, food before a test can elevate triglyceride levels, so accuracy there does require fasting. Prior to your test, double-check with your doctor about how best to prepare.

    Cholesterol tests provide a broader glimpse of your health status. You cant really affect results without making significant, long-term dietary or lifestyle changes . As such, behaviors like steering clear of foods high in cholesterol or saturated fat within a couple of days of your lipid profile wont really affect results.

    Can I Test My Lipids At Home

    How to Fast Before a Blood Cholesterol Test

    There are tests available to use at home to measure total cholesterol. You prick your finger and put blood on a piece of paper that will change color based on your cholesterol level .

    There are also kits available that have you collect a blood sample at home and then mail it to a reference laboratory, which will then perform a lipid panel and send the results back to you.

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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

    What Types Of Blood Tests Require Fasting

    The most common types of tests that require fasting include:

    • Glucose tests, which measure blood sugar. One type of glucose test is called a glucose tolerance test. For this test you will need to fast for 8 hours before test. When you arrive at the lab or health care facility, you will:
    • Have your blood tested
    • Drink a special liquid containing glucose
    • Have your blood re-tested one hour later, two hours later and possibly three hours later

    Glucose tests are used to diagnose diabetes.

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    How Long For Cholesterol Count To Go Down After Eating Fatty Food

    While a blood test to determine your cholesterol level can be done anytime, for the most accurate results it is best to fast. Different foods such as fatty foods have varying effects on cholesterol levels and if you test too close to eating, you may not get accurate results. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels and preparing for a test, your physician will tell you what foods to avoid and how long you should fast for.

    How Is A Cholesterol Test Done

    No Need to Fast Before Cholesterol Blood Test

    A cholesterol test is a simple blood test. Usually, you will be asked to fast for about 10-12 hours before the test but not more than 16 hours. The test is therefore often done in the morning after an overnight fast. It is usually recommended to drink some water during this time, to avoid dehydration, and you will usually be allowed to take your regular medicines. The pathology service that does your blood test or your doctor will be able to advise you of the exact requirements. If you have diabetes, you should seek your doctors advice before fasting.

    Blood will be sent to the lab for testing, and the results will be sent to your doctor.

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    Why Is A Cholesterol Test Done

    Raised cholesterol levels can cause cholesterol to be deposited within the walls of arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow through. This build-up in the walls of the arteries, which is called atherosclerosis, puts a person at significant risk of heart disease and stroke.

    High cholesterol levels may not give you any symptoms, so a blood test is the best way to check how much cholesterol and other lipids your blood contains.

    Low Density Lipoprotein Bad Cholesterol

    High levels are linked to an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease, including coronary artery disease, heart attack and death. Reducing LDL levels is a major treatment target for cholesterol-lowering medications.

    Goal values:

    • Less than 70 mg/dL for those with heart or blood vessel disease and for other patients at very high risk of heart disease
    • Less than 100 mg/dL for high risk patients
    • Less than 130 mg/dL for individuals who are at low risk for coronary artery disease


    Blood should be collected after a 12-hour fast . For the most accurate results, wait at least two months after a heart attack, surgery, infection, injury or pregnancy to check LDL levels.

    LDL is a lipoprotein found in the blood. It is called “bad” cholesterol because it picks up cholesterol from the blood and takes it to the cells. A high LDL level is related to a higher risk of heart and blood vessel disease.

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    Can I Drink Coffee / Alcohol / Juice / Soda / Tea While Fasting

    No. Any beverage other than water should not be consumed before a blood test, unless approved by your healthcare provider. Alcohol, soda, and juice contain high quantities of sugar, which can interfere with many common test results.;

    Black coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages are diuretics, which can have a dehydrating effect and cause test results to be inaccurate. For best results, avoid drinking all non-water beverages for the recommended amount of time before your test.

    What Are Normal Blood Cholesterol Levels

    Fasting for Blood Work

    Cholesterol levels, measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood, are categorized as optimal, near optimal, borderline, high, and very high. What are considered healthy, normal levels?

    While individual health factors can influence whats considered healthy, typically doctors want to see:

    • Total: For people 19 and younger, less than 170 mg/dL is healthy. This number becomes a range of 125-200 mg/dL in men and women 20 and older.
    • Non-HDL: Nineteen-year-olds and younger should have less than 120 mg/dL of this type, and this figure jumps to 130 mg/dL for adults.
    • LDL: In men and women 20 and upas well as those youngerlevels smaller than 100 mg/dL are considered within a healthy range.
    • HDL: Those 19 and younger should have an HDL of greater than 45 mg/dL. In adult men, this figure should be at least 40 mg/dL, with the healthy range climbing to 50 mg/dL or higher for women.

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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.

    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.

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