Check Your Heart Rate
Your heart rate, also known as your pulse, is a basic measurement of heart health, which is why your doctor or nurse often listens for it during check-ups. Its easy to measure at home with no equipment and offers useful information about your heart and overall fitness.
Your heart rate naturally changes throughout the day, depending on how much youre exerting yourself. During moments of high stress or intense physical exertion, for example, your heart beats faster. When youre relaxed or asleep, it beats more slowly.
There are two types of heart rate you can measure at home: resting heart rate and maximum heart rate. First, well go over what each one means. Then well explain how to measure.
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What Are The Different Types Of At
Cholesterol home test kits come in several different formats, and each one will require you to complete different steps during the process.
Your at-home cholesterol testing options include:
- Strip-only tests
Letâs dive into the details of each so that you can decide which at-home cholesterol kit best meets your needs.
How Do They Work
Many home cholesterol tests can measure total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides from a blood sample. Some also measure LDL cholesterol. These tests can be purchased online or at your local pharmacy.
There are three basic types that work in different ways:
- Test strips: These involve paper test strips that you read visually. You add a drop of blood from a finger prick and read the color change after several minutes.
- Electronic meters: This type requires purchasing a small analyzer that is similar to a glucose meter. After placing a drop of blood on a test strip, the strip is inserted into the analyzer for a reading.
- Mail-in tests: The third type of test requires sending a blood sample to a laboratory where health professionals do the analysis. You have to wait for them to contact you with your results.
If you decide to use a mail-in service, opt for labs that are part of the Cholesterol Reference Method Laboratory Network certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . You can also check online to see if the lab is on the CDC-certified list.
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When To Check Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is easy to measure with an inflatable cuff around your arm and anyone over the age of 18 should have it checked. Your doctor or other health providers likely check it anytime you go in for a visit. Itâs best to check your blood pressure at least once every couple of years. If youâve had a borderline or high reading in the past, itâs a good idea to check it more often.
High blood pressure doesnât always come with any warning signs. But over time, it can lead to serious health problems. Checking your blood pressure often will help you know whatâs normal for you and catch any problem sooner.
How Long To Fast Before A Cholesterol Test
According to the American Heart Association, a healthcare professional may advise a person to avoid eating, drinking most beverages, and taking medications, for 9-12 hours before a cholesterol test.
However, not all cholesterol tests require fasting. A person should only fast if their doctor or the test manufacturer recommends it.
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Eat More Protein & Unsaturated Fats
Compared to a diet high in carbs, diets rich in protein and unsaturated fat reduced triglycerides by about 10 mg/dL in a study of 164 people with high blood pressure .
Diets high in monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil and avocados, decreased triglyceride levels better than a high-carb diet over 7-weeks in 85 people with an increased risk of heart disease. An olive-oil-rich diet also decreased the buildup of triglycerides in the liver .
A diet high in monounsaturated fats and omega-3s decreased triglyceride levels in 17 men with moderately increased triglycerides .
When To Call The Doctor
If youâve had your blood pressure or cholesterol checked at the doctorâs office, your health care providers can help you to understand the results. Theyâll also consider the results in the context of any other potential risk factors you may have.
A cholesterol test may give you more than one number:
- Total cholesterol. A normal total cholesterol reading is less than 200 mg/dL.
- LDL cholesterol. A normal LDL cholesterol reading is less than 100 mg/dL.
- HDL cholesterol. Itâs good to have an HDL cholesterol of more than 60 mg/dL.
- Triglycerides. This is another type of fat in blood. Normal levels are less than 150 mg/dL.
If youâve tested cholesterol at a health fair or at home and you got a high reading or you arenât sure, call your doctor.
If youâre keeping tabs on your blood pressure at home, keep in mind that a normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mm Hg. Call your doctor if you get a consistently high reading or you notice a change.
If your blood pressure suddenly exceeds 180/120 mm Hg, wait a few minutes and check again. Blood pressure thatâs this high can immediately damage organs and is a medical emergency. If this happens, call 911.
Many people have high blood pressure or cholesterol. But too many of them donât know they have it. By checking your numbers, youâll know if itâs time to take steps to help lower your risk of a more serious health problem.
Mayo Clinic: âCholesterol test kits: Are they accurate?â
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Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
Often, there are no specific symptoms of high cholesterol. You could have high cholesterol and not know it.
If you have high cholesterol, your body may store the extra cholesterol in your arteries. These are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. A buildup of cholesterol in your arteries is known as plaque. Over time, plaque can become hard and make your arteries narrow. Large deposits of plaque can completely block an artery. Cholesterol plaques can also break apart, leading to formation of a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood.
A blocked artery to the heart can cause a heart attack. A blocked artery to your brain can cause a stroke.
Many people dont discover that they have high cholesterol until they suffer one of these life-threatening events. Some people find out through routine check-ups that include blood tests.
Are Cholesterol Home Test Kits Regulated By The Fda
The FDA does regulate certain cholesterol home test kits. There are home test kits for HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, too. However, not all cholesterol home test kits you can buy meet the FDA’s stringent guidelines.
If you are unsure about which cholesterol home test kit to purchase, the FDA has set up the Over-The-Counter Database. You can find it on the FDA’s website. This database is an excellent resource to search for FDA-cleared cholesterol home test kits. You can also use it to find other types of home test kits.
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How Accurate Are They
The Food and Drug Administration states that at-home tests they have approved are about as accurate as the tests done by your doctor if you follow the instructions correctly. These tests have information about the test’s accuracy printed on the product label.
However, note that for the majority of these devices, there is little published research about their accuracy.
The biggest challenge associated with home cholesterol testing is user error. This can lead to an inaccurate result.
Here are just a few of the things that can go wrong:
- Instructions: Were any of the instructions confusing?
- Fasting: Was fasting required and did you comply?
- Blood sample: Did you get an adequate drop of blood on the strip?
- Timing: Did you read it at the right time?
- Storage: Was the test kit stored at the right temperature?
- Expiration date: Was the kit within the expiration date?
- Reading: Was there any confusion about the colors on the test strip?
- Interpretation: Do you know what the results mean and whether you need to speak with your doctor?
This should not suggest that tests are excessively complicated. But you should know that one or two errors can lead to false results or misinterpretations.
If you get inconsistent results, see your doctor, who can check the values of your device or kit against an in-office test.
There are four at-home cholesterol tests currently approved by the FDA:
- Accutech CholesTrak
- Home Access Cholesterol Panel Kit
- Mission Cholesterol Test
Preparation For A Cholesterol Test
In some cases, your doctor may ask you to fast before having your cholesterol levels tested.
However, according to 2018 guidelines published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a nonfasting test can accurately detect high cholesterol or lipids in adults over age 20 who arent taking medications to lower their lipid levels.
If you do need to fast, you should avoid eating or drinking anything other than water for 9 to 12 hours before your test.
Before your test, you should also tell your doctor about:
- any symptoms or health problems youre experiencing
- your family heart health history
- all medications and supplements that youre currently taking
If youre taking medications that could increase your cholesterol levels, such as birth control pills, your doctor may ask you to stop taking them a few days before your test.
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Healthy cholesterol levels are a key component of cardiovascular wellness. The American Heart Association recommends getting tested every four to six years beginning at age 20a blood lipid panel includes your total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein , low-density lipoprotein , and triglycerides. The good news is that there is a myriad of cholesterol tests that you can take at home.
Pts Diagnostics Cardiochek Analyzer
If you dont need blood sugar testing, you may prefer this less-expensive device made specifically for home use. It uses the same technology as the CardioChek Plus but only tests for cholesterol, not glucose.
This complete kit includes everything you need for testing:
- handheld, battery-operated meter
- nine test strips for HDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides
It provides a large digital readout of your results within 45 seconds of testing. If you prefer a language other than English, you can program the meter to display your results in another language, such as Spanish, German, French, Chinese, and Russian.
Additional test strips are sold separately.
It comes with a 1-year factory warranty.
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Having Your Cholesterol Measured By A Doctor
Do I Need To Call My Doctor For My Test Results
It usually takes a day or two from the time the blood is drawn until your health care professional receives the results of the cholesterol test. Ideally, the health care professional will contact you with those results and explain their significance. However, if you have not been contacted in a short period of time, it is reasonable to contact your health care professional and ask for the test results.
There are home cholesterol test kits available that have been U.S. FDA approved, but their accuracy is not necessarily as good as that of a certified laboratory. These tests usually measure total cholesterol only, but some also can measure HDL, LDL, and cholesterol. If you use one of the home kits, it is wise to discuss the results with your health-care professional.
The purpose of the cholesterol blood test is to determine whether treatment is needed for high cholesterol. That treatment may include dietary and lifestyle modifications, medications, or both to control cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
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What Are The Drawbacks
While home test kits offer several benefits, they also have shortcomings.
Limited measurements. Many kits only measure your overall cholesterol levels. This is not enough information to assess your heart health. You can have a normal total cholesterol level, but still have high LDL or bad cholesterol. To get a clear assessment of your heart health, look for a kit that tests LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels.
Hard to read. If you dont use a kit with an electronic meter, you may have trouble reading the color on the test strip. This will make it more difficult to interpret your test results.
Lack of medical evaluation. Home health kits cannot replace your healthcare providers insights. Only your physician can consider factors such as your weight, diet, exercise, blood pressure, and whether or not you smoke. This will help your doctor determine the best treatment options for you if your cholesterol is high.
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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. You can also check your risk yourself using the Check. Change. Control. Calculator.
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.
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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.
Comparing And Contrasting Laboratory And At
Whether conducted in a laboratory or at home, cholesterol tests rely on a blood sample. Virtually all tests measure total cholesterol, but the other components can vary depending on the specific test that is being taken. In addition, fasting may be required in some cases for both kinds of tests. In most cases, accuracy of at-home and in-lab tests is comparable.
A principal difference between these tests is how the blood sample is obtained. Blood drawn from a vein is usually analyzed in tests that are conducted at a doctors office, lab, or hospital. At-home self-tests and self-collection tests rely on a smaller amount of blood obtained with a fingerstick.
Another difference is insurance coverage. When a standard blood draw and cholesterol test is ordered by a doctor, some or all of the charges are often covered by insurance. In contrast, most at-home cholesterol tests are not covered, requiring you to pay the full cost out-of-pocket.
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Best Instructional Video: Letsgetchecked Cholesterol Test
LetsGetChecked offers a finger prick cholesterol test and states that it may suit people with:
- a family history of heart disease
LetsGetChecked has an instructional video on its website that explains how a person should collect the sample. The company suggests that people do so before 10 a.m. and before they eat breakfast.
LetsGetChecked offers a one-time purchase as well as a subscription plan for those who require regular cholesterol testing.
It states that its laboratories are approved by and part of the College of American Pathologists program.
People should receive their results within 25 days. Additionally, they can contact a LetsGetChecked nurse at any time to discuss their results.
Price: A test kit costs $79.
A person may wish to consider the advantages and disadvantages of this test.
Interpreting Your Cholesterol Levels And Setting Goals
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