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.
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.
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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New Guidelines Simplify Cholesterol Tests: No Fasting Needed
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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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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Ensuring Good Results For Your Next Test
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 well get back to you within one working day. If its urgent, you can call us on 0300 123 6200.
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Redo The Test If Results Are Abnormal
If your cholesterol levels are unusually high or low, your doctor should repeat the test a few weeks later. Stress can raise cholesterol, but other conditions, including cancer, can dramatically lower it, Goldberg says. If its still high, ask your doctor about lifestyle measures or medication to reduce it. If its low, your doctor may want to run tests to rule out other health problems.
The History Behind Fasting Cholesterol Tests
When doctors test for cholesterol, we almost always order a group of tests called a lipid panel . This panel typically includes four separate measures:
- Total cholesterol concentration.
- Low-density lipoprotein* cholesterol, often called the bad cholesterol. The amount of LDL in your blood strongly predicts your risk of cardiovascular disease, as higher levels are associated with development of plaque in the arteries.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often called good cholesterol because higher levels protect against heart disease.
- Triglycerides . High levels of triglycerides are also associated with vascular disease, although this relationship isnt as well defined.
*Lipoproteins are the packages that transport cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Lipids have traditionally been drawn after a fast for two main reasons. The first was to minimize variation, since eating can affect some lipid levels. The second was to produce a better calculation of LDL-cholesterol, which is often derived from an equation thought to provide highly distorted results after eating. However, more recent studies have largely negated these concerns.
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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.
What Treatments Are Recommended If My Level Is Too High
One treatment option is to adopt a lifestyle that will help lower your levels, one including exercise and a diet that is low in saturated fats and trans fat. If diet and exercise alone cannot lower cholesterol enough, drugs are often recommended and usually aim to lower LDL-C levels specifically. Sometimes, two different drugs are used together to treat people with extremely high cholesterol levels. The drug of choice differs for different people although the most commonly used lipid-lowering drugs are statins. Your healthcare practitioner will need to take into account your individual situation before prescribing any cholesterol-lowering drug.
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How Can I Lower My Cholesterol Before A Blood Test
Cholesterol is not your body’s enemy but rather an asset, aiding in cell formation and hormone production. Your liver produces the exact amount your body requires any excess amounts come from the foods you eat and lack of physical activity, as FamilyDoctor.org explains. The site continues, adding that these excess amounts pose a health risk, increasing your chances of suffering from a heart attack or stroke. Blood tests are the only way to detect high cholesterol levels. If you feel you suffer from high cholesterol, and want to lower it before testing, you can begin with small lifestyle changes that might make a difference.
Reduce your cholesterol intake 1. Consume no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day. Read food labels for cholesterol content, paying close attention to the serving size. A particular item might only contain 25 milligrams of cholesterol, but the serving size might be a half cup.
Swap saturated fats for healthy fats. Saturated fats increase your cholesterol levels, while unsaturated fats lower them. The main source of saturated fat is animal products such as whole-fat dairy, eggs, organ meat and red meat. Unsaturated fats are in oils such as canola, olive, sunflower and peanut. Avocados are another source, along with a variety of nuts. Only 7 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fats.
When Should My Cholesterol Levels Be Tested
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini stroke , or peripheral arterial disease
- have a family history of early cardiovascular disease
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition
- are overweight
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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.
How Often Do I Need To Get My Cholesterol Checked
The general recommendation is to get your cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. Some people may need to get their cholesterol checked more or less often depending on their risk of heart disease.
For example, high cholesterol can run in families. If someone in your family has high cholesterol or takes medicine to control cholesterol, you might need to get tested more often. Talk to your doctor about whats best for you.
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Test Your Cholesterol Today
The best treatment to lower cholesterol levels involves a range of different methods, including lifestyle and diet. Ultimately, speaking with your doctor and getting a lipid profile test is the first step toward figuring out the best way to manage your own cholesterol levels.
Take control of your whole health today ask your doctor about your cholesterol levels and how to get a lipid profile test at an AdventHealth Lab near you. Visit AHLabCentralFL.com for more information.
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.
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Ways To Lower Cholesterol
Check your own cholesterol level and if it’s high, ask to have your kids’ levels checked.
Here are 5 ways to help keep your family’s cholesterol in control:
It’s important to make healthy living a family effort. The steps you take to improve your family’s lifestyle will have a positive effect on your family’s health now and far into the future.
Why Would I Need This Test
You might need this test if your doctor wants to assess your risk of developing heart disease. It is usually recommended every 5 years for people who are over 45 . If you have other risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure or diabetes, you will need the lipid test more regularly.
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My Doctor Told Me I Had A High Cholesterol Test But Instead Of Treating Me He Told Me To Wait A Few Months And Test It Again Why
Cholesterol levels fluctuate over time. A single measurement of cholesterol may not always reflect the “usualâ cholesterol level. For this reason, you may have at least two different measurements several weeks to several months apart before beginning any kind of treatment.
Conditions: Heart Disease, Cardiovascular Disease, Heart Attack, StrokeScreening: High Cholesterol – Children , Teens , Young Adults , Adults , Adults In the News: More Evidence That Fasting Not Needed Before Cholesterol Tests , Assessing Personal Risk of Heart Attack and Heart Disease
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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:
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.
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