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 Once the needle is positioned, a small amount of blood is withdrawn and collected in a vial or a syringe.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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Blood Tests: Fast Facts On Fasting
You dont have to fast for all blood tests ask your doctor if you need to. Blood tests help doctors check for certain health problems and determine how well your body is working. Tell your doctor about all the drugs you take. Iron tests are used to see if your iron levels in your system are too low or too high.
Will This Recommendation Catch On In The United States
Health care providers often do what they are used to doing, so it may take a while for some to change to nonfasting cholesterol tests. But we also need to realize that there are advantages to this evidence-based change. Switching to nonfasting cholesterol testing is actually the path of least resistance for patients and clinicians. It also provides a more accurate lipid profile for individual patients.
I believe that getting the word out to clinicians, lab directors, and patients will be enough to make the switch to nonfasting cholesterol tests in a fairly short time.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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Who Performs A Lipid Panel Blood Test
A healthcare provider called a phlebotomist usually performs blood draws, including those for a lipid panel, but any healthcare provider who is trained in drawing blood can perform this task. A provider then sends the samples to a lab where a medical laboratory scientist prepares the samples and performs the tests on machines known as analyzers.
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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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.
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 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|
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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.
Patients Wont Need To Fast Before Cholesterol Test At Singhealth Soon
SINGAPORE – Patients with ailments such as high blood pressure and diabetes will soon be able to skip the fasting process before taking a cholesterol test at SingHealth polyclinics.
This comes after a local study found that there was little difference in test results whether the patients, including those with high cholesterol, had fasted or not.
The change in requirement will help to reduce crowds at testing laboratories and polyclinics in the morning as patients can be scheduled for tests throughout the day.
Blood tests that require fasting are typically done in the morning as most patients fast when they are asleep.
“Removing the need for fasting will mitigate the discomfort and potential adverse effects of fasting, such as low blood sugar and dehydration, on our patients,” said Dr Ian Phoon, the main author of the study and clinical lead of the cardiovascular health workgroup at SingHealth Polyclinics.
Fasting for a cholesterol blood test usually means not eating or drinking anything but plain water for at least eight hours before the test.
Using a Paired Sample T-Test, the study found that the mean difference between the two test sets was insignificant.
HDL-C absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver for excretion. LDL-C is bad cholesterol, too much of which can lead to a build-up of plaque in the arteries and cause heart disease or stroke.
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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:
What About Fasting For A Blood Test During Pregnancy
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.
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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 Is It Done
The procedure is fairly simple, quick, safe, and most importantly, almost painless. The following points will give you a fair idea of how this test is carried out.
- A blood sample is usually collected from the vein of the upper arm. The puncture site is cleaned with a medicated cotton ball, and an elastic band is tied around the arm to increase the blood supply around the vein.
- A needle is then inserted in the vein, and little amount of blood is collected in the tube attached to the needle.
- Once the blood is collected, the band is removed and so is the needle.
- The punctured site is pressed with a medicated cotton ball to prevent further bleeding and infection.
The procedure doesnât even take a few minutes and there is no pain, just a small prick, which is very similar to a small ant bite. Once the test is done, you can get back to the normal activities, the first and foremost of which would be, eating.
Fasting wouldnât be a problem if you have an early morning appointment. However, if you have an appointment in the evening, then it could be a bit troublesome.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a replacement for expert medical advice.
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Lipid Panel Fasting Requirements
A lipid panel is ultimately a cholesterol test. It’s used to determine the level of not just total cholesterol, but also low-density lipoprotein , high-density lipoprotein and triglycerides in your bloodstream. Often referred to as a lipid profile, this blood test is really the first line of defense against high cholesterol. If a reading comes back borderline to high, you and your doctor can take certain measures to bring your levels down into a healthy range. But you can’t just go into your clinic and have a lipid panel run you first need to prepare for the test. One of the requirements is a short period of fasting.
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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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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
- to the buildup in a persons arteries.
According to the , the ideal levels of each type are as follows:
- Total cholesterol: Levels under 200 mg/dl are optimal.
- HDL cholesterol: Levels greater than or equal to 60 mg/dl are optimal.
- LDL cholesterol: Levels under 100 mg/dl are optimal.
- Triglycerides: Levels under 150 mg/dl are optimal.
Your Cholesterol Test Results
Once youve 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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