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Should You Fast Before A Cholesterol Test

Will This Recommendation Catch On In The United States

Why You Should Fast 12 Hours Before a Cholesterol Test

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.

What Do My Levels Mean

Your test results can help your doctor identify your potential risk for heart disease or other conditions. Your doctor will use those results to help establish a prevention plan to reduce your risk. The following are some definitions of abnormal triglyceride levels from the American College of Cardiology:

Type

Treatment And Next Steps

After confirming that you have elevated blood triglycerides, your doctor may suggest various options depending on the level of triglycerides in your blood and other risk factors you might have. Your doctor will likely test for other conditions that could be secondary causes of high triglyceride levels. In many cases, lifestyle and diet changes may be enough to manage the condition.

If your triglyceride levels are very high or your doctor is concerned about your risk for heart disease or other complications, they may prescribe medications such as statins. Statins can help lower blood lipid levels. Other medications called fibrates, such as gemfibrozil and fenofibrate , also have an important role in the treatment of high triglycerides.

Also Check: How Do Eggland Eggs Have Less Cholesterol

Whatll It Be: Feast Or Fast

If youre not taking statins, you might not have to fast.

For years, doctors ordered fasts before cholesterol tests. The logic? Scientists thought chowing down affected lipid levels . They also thought eating distorted low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.

Recently, scientists have found that fasting has minimal impact on test results for total cholesterol level, LDL cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

In fact, testing after eating may help better predict cardiovascular risk, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Since most people chow down throughout the day, post-meal tests may best reflect normal lipid levels.

Recent guidelines from the American College of Cardiology advise that as long as youre not taking statins, you might not have to fast.

Hold that acai bowl does that mean youre in the clear? Not necessarily. Many doctors say to fast anyway, so always listen up.

Though eating doesnt significantly impact three measures of the test, it can affect the fourth. Eating can raise your triglyceride levels for several hours especially if you enjoy a high fat meal . The effect is usually small, though.

If the reading seems too high, your doctor may order another test post-fast.

Whats Behind The New Recommendation

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

This change has been coming for some time. It is driven by data from a dozen-plus studies that include more than 300,000 people whose cholesterol and other lipids were measured when they hadnt fasted. Their levels predicted cardiovascular risk, as well as, or possibly better than, fasting lipid levels.

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How To Prepare For A Cholesterol Test

This article was co-authored by Courtney Fose, RD, MS. Courtney Fose is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She has worked as a Dietitian since 2009, and received her MS in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Arkansas in 2016.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 14,934 times.

People get cholesterol tests in order to assess their risk of heart disease. As cholesterol levels indicate the amount of lipidsthat is, different kinds of fatsin your blood, a high result means that a person will need to take measures to lower their cholesterol and get re-tested in the future. If youre considering getting a cholesterol test, or your doctor has recommended one, you should evaluate your candidacy for the test, find out what preparatory procedures are expected of you, and fast according to the doctors recommendations.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source

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.

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List Of Foods To Avoid Before A Cholesterol Test

In cardiovascular risk assessment, the lipid profile also known as Cholesterol Test is a vital investigation and it has become one of the routine tests in medical checkups. The lipid profile checks the level of total cholesterol, high density lipoproteins, low density lipoproteins and triglycerides.

High density cholesterol is known as Good Cholesterol and high levels of reference are recommended as healthy. Low density cholesterol is considered as Bad;Cholesterol and patients are advised to keep it at a lower level. There are certain foods to be avoided before a cholesterol test, which are found to be causing an alteration in the cholesterol test. The test can be performed as a fasting test or a non-fasting test. Evidence suggests that the fasting lipid test will overcome the effect of elevated post-prandial triglyceride level. Patients should be provided with adequate information on foods to avoid before a cholesterol test.

In a fasting lipid profile, all patients should fast for 12 hours prior to the test.

  • They must avoid eating any type of solid or semisolid food during these 12 hours. But it is important to state that the patient should continue drinking water and any medication he is on. After a meal, the calories of the foods are converted to triglycerides and they remain high in the blood for a significant number of hours. The need for fasting before the test is based on this concept.

What Might Happen Next

No Need to Fast Before Cholesterol Blood Test

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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Part 2 Of 2: Ensuring Good Results For Your Next Test

  • 1Exercise for 30 minutes every day. Whether your cholesterol test results came out high or you’re just trying to maintain your good levels, you can help ensure a positive result at your next lipid test by making some basic lifestyle changes. Perhaps most importantly, physical activity is essential to raising levels of high-density lipoproteins or good cholesterol as it is often called. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, jogging, or swimming, per day.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source
  • Daily exercise can also be invaluable for managing ones weight. This is important for lowering your cholesterol levels, as excess weight has been linked to high cholesterol and heart disease as a risk factor.
  • 2Eat foods rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is important to a cholesterol-conscious diet, as it binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and gets it out of the body. Its recommended that you consume at least 20-35 grams of fiber a day, with five to ten grams of that being of the soluble variety.XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical School’s Educational Site for the PublicGo to source
  • Some fiber-rich foods include oats barley, oat bran, beans, and eggplant.XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical School’s Educational Site for the PublicGo to source
  • How Does Fasting & Not Fasting Affect The Cholesterol Level

    Fasting for 9-12 hours before collecting the blood sample for testing the cholesterol levels is a standard instruction advised by the doctor and as per the experts. Fasting for long hours before the sample collection provides the most accurate results in terms of knowing your cholesterol levels. Recent food consumption raises the Low-Density Lipoproteins- LDL level and triggers the level of Triglycerides in the blood; and this how not fasting affects your cholesterol test.

    Fasting for 9-12 hours before blood sample collection gives accurate test results of total cholesterol, protective HDL, harmful LDL and triglycerides and is a standard practice. But, many people dont like to fast for long hours, and it becomes critical for patients. Certain research eliminated the fasting requirement for certain groups after conducting several tests and studies. The individuals taking statins may not require fasting before the blood test for cholesterol level.

    Cholesterol is a fatty substance made by the liver. Consuming certain foods with cholesterol increases the level of cholesterol. The increased level of cholesterol builds up in the arteries walls and hardens to create a blockage. The process called atherosclerosis makes blood flow in the arteries difficult creating pressure on the heart.

    Also Check: Can You Have Blocked Arteries With Low Cholesterol

    How To Read Your Results

    Your blood will likely be checked using a test called a total lipid profile. To understand your cholesterol test results, youll need to know the different types of cholesterol that the test measures and whats considered normal, potentially risky, and high.

    Heres a breakdown of each type. Keep in mind that people who have conditions such as diabetes may need to aim for even lower numbers.

    New Guidelines Simplify Cholesterol Tests: No Fasting Needed

    Is My Cholesterol High At 5,cholesterolratio which fish ...

    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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    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.

    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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    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

    Will Eating Or Fasting Affect The Results

    Always Fast 12 Hours Before Your Cholesterol Test

    According to the American Heart Association , in the past, healthcare professionals have recommended that people fast for 912 hours before having a cholesterol test.

    The United Kingdoms National Health Service explains that there are two ways to measure someones cholesterol.

    One method is a finger prick test. In this, a person pricks their finger and places a drop of blood on a strip of paper. This strip of paper then goes into a machine that checks the cholesterol levels within minutes.

    Another method involves taking blood from the arm. In this, a healthcare professional will draw blood from the arm and send the sample to a laboratory for the results. This method may require a person to fast.

    However, a paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that for people aged 20 years and older who are not taking cholesterol lowering medications, there seems to be little difference between fasting blood tests and non-fasting blood tests in terms of their accuracy and ability to estimate cardiovascular risk.

    The foods that people eat can affect the level of triglycerides in their blood. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. According to the paper above, a fasting blood test may be necessary when the results of a non-fasting blood test indicate a triglyceride level of 400 milligrams per deciliter or higher.

    Read Also: How Quickly Can You Lower Cholesterol

    What To Expect During The Test

    A cholesterol test is a simple blood test during which a technician will generally seat the person in a chair with a special armrest. The technician will then tie a rubber strip around the persons arm to try to find a suitable vein from which to draw blood.

    After finding a vein, the technician will clean the area with alcohol, insert a needle attached to a tube into the persons vein, and allow the tube to fill.

    When the tube is full of blood, the technician will remove the needle and hold gauze on the site of the puncture. The technician may ask the person to apply pressure for a few minutes to stop the bleeding, and they might apply a small bandage over the gauze.

    At this point, the test is complete, and the person is usually free to go about their normal daily activities.

    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

    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.

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    Part 1 Of 2: Getting Ready For Your Test

  • 1Determine if you are a candidate for cholesterol testing. Most doctors recommend that all adults over the age of 18 get their cholesterol checked every five years. You might want to undergo more frequent testing, though, if you fall into a higher-risk category. Factors such as a family history of heart disease, obesity, lack of physical activity, diabetes, and smoking can exacerbate ones risk of heart disease, so you should be particularly vigilant about cholesterol if you possess one of these qualities.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source
  • Children are at a lower risk of high cholesterol, but its still recommended that a child receive one screening test between the ages of 9 and 11. Teenagers between 17 and 21 years of age should also get a cholesterol test.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source
  • 2Determine an appropriate day and time for your test. While fasting is generally no longer required before a cholesterol test, there are still some considerations, such as prior surgeries, infections, pregnancy, or illnesses, which you should take into account when scheduling. For example, one should wait at least two months after a heart attack, pregnancy, or major surgery in order to ensure optimally accurate results.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source
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