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Should You Fast Before Cholesterol Blood Test

How Does Fasting & Not Fasting Affect Your Cholesterol Test

No Need to Fast Before Cholesterol Blood Test

The human body produces a fatty material called cholesterol, which is essential for maintaining proper body functions. Certain foods also contain cholesterol. But, the human body needs a normal level of cholesterol. Increased levels of cholesterol in the human body raise the risk of heart diseases and other health problems.

Every individual must know about their cholesterol level to maintain good health! It is essential to perform the blood test and check the cholesterol level in the blood to prevent chronic health conditions. The doctors advise the patients to prepare for the tests before collecting the blood sample.

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 we’ll get back to you within one working day. If it’s urgent, you can call us on 0300 123 6200.

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Can I Drink Anything Besides Water During A Fast

No. Juice, coffee, soda, and other beverages can get in your bloodstream and affect your results. In addition, you should not:

  • Chew gum
  • Exercise

These activities can also affect your results.

But you can drink water. It’s actually good to drink water before a blood test. It helps keep more fluid in your veins, which can make it easier to draw blood.

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What You Need To Know About Fasting Lab Tests

If youre not feeling well and your doctor isnt sure why, he or she may order lab tests to help better understand whats going on inside your body. One test they may order is a fasting lab test. Before this blood test, you may be asked to stop eating or drinking for a few hours before.

While not all lab tests require it, some tests require fasting for the most accurate results. Most of the time, this means youll be asked to stop having any food or liquid between eight to 24 hours before your lab test or bloodwork, depending on the test.

What Does The Test Result Mean

Your Cholesterol Blood Tests Explained

In general, healthy lipid levels help to maintain a healthy heart and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke. Your healthcare practitioner will take into consideration the results of each component of a lipid panel plus other risk factors to help determine your overall risk of coronary heart disease, whether treatment is necessary and, if so, which treatment will best help to lower your risk of heart disease.

Health organizations have different recommendations for treatment based on your predicted CVD risk.

Guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend that a risk calculator;be used to determine your 10-year risk of CVD if you are age 40 to 75 and do not have heart disease. Many factors are considered in the calculation, including total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-C, age, gender, race, blood pressure, presence of diabetes, and smoking habit. An initial risk should be calculated and then your risk can be tracked over time with each subsequent risk calculation. Ten-year risk is categorized below:

Calculated 10-Year Risk

ACC and AHA recommend treatment with statins if you:

  • Have heart disease
  • Have LDL-C greater than 190 mg/dL
  • Are age 40 to 75 years with diabetes and LDL-C 70-189 mg/dL but do not have heart disease
  • Are age 40 to 75 years old and do not have diabetes or heart disease but have LDL-C level between 70-189 mg/dL and 10-year risk of developing heart disease of greater than 7%

The target LDL-C value is:

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Can I Eat And Drink Before Having A Blood Test

It depends on the type of blood test you’re having.;The healthcare professional arranging your test will tell you if you need to do anything to prepare for it.

You can eat and drink as normal before some blood tests. But if you’re having a “fasting blood test”, you will be told not to eat or drink anything beforehand. You may also be told not to smoke before your test.

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
  • help protect a person from experiencing a stroke or heart attack. It carries the LDL back to the liver, which can break it down and help remove it from the body.
  • Triglycerides: These store excess energy from a persons diet and can contribute to the buildup in a persons arteries.

According to the , the ideal levels of each type are as follows:

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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.

High Density Lipoprotein Good Cholesterol

Why You Should Fast 12 Hours Before a Cholesterol Test

High levels linked to a reduced risk of heart and blood vessel disease. The higher your HDL level, the better.

Goal value:

  • Greater than 40 mg/dL


This test may be measured any time of the day without fasting. However, if the test is drawn as part of a total lipid profile, it requires 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 HDL levels.

HDL is a lipoprotein found in the blood. It is called “good” cholesterol because it removes excess cholesterol from the blood and takes it to the liver. A high HDL level is related to lower risk of heart and blood vessel disease.

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Will Eating Or Fasting Affect The Results

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.

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.

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Procedure And Significance Of Fasting Before Cholesterol Test

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance present naturally in the body. It plays an important role in the body by helping produce many hormones including Vitamin D and the bile acids that help in the digestion of food. Only small amounts of cholesterol are required by the body for its normal functioning and any excess amounts of cholesterol will get deposited in the artery walls throughout the body. This will lead to the narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to the heart resulting in lesser blood flow to the heart causing angina and heart attack. The same happens to the carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain causing a stroke. High cholesterol itself does not show any symptoms, and therefore a fasting cholesterol test is required to determine if your body cholesterol levels are high and assess the risk of developing heart or brain diseases.

How Do I Prepare For My Cholesterol Test

How Long Do I Have to Fast Before Taking a Cholesterol ...

If your doctor recommends a “non-fasting” cholesterol test, the lab will look only at your total cholesterol numbers. For that test, you merely need to show up at the lab and have some blood drawn. If your doctor suggests a “fasting” cholesterol test , the lab will analyze your levels of LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. For that test, you will need to fast nine to 12 hours before the blood test.

Sometimes a doctor will ask you to do a non-fasting cholesterol test first. Depending on the results, they may then send you back for the more complete lipid profile.

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What Happens During A Cholesterol Test

The cholesterol test, or screening, requires a simple blood draw. You may need to fast for 8 to 12 hours before your cholesterol test. Be sure to ask your doctor how to prepare for the test.

The cholesterol test checks your levels of:

  • Low-density lipoprotein or badcholesterol. Having high levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease;or stroke.
  • High-density lipoprotein or goodcholesterol. HDL is known as good cholesterol because high levels can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that your body uses for energy. The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Total cholesterol, the total amount of cholesterol in your blood based on your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides numbers.

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.

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What Does A Cholesterol Test Measure

In addition to measuring the total cholesterol in your blood, the standard cholesterol test measures three specific kinds of fat:

  • Low-density lipoproteins . This is the “bad cholesterol,” the main cause of plaque build-up, which increases your risk for heart disease. In general, the lower the number, the better. But LDL cholesterol is only one part of a larger equation that measures a personâs overall risk of having a heart attack or stroke. For years, guidelines focused on specific target numbers for individuals to achieve to lower their risk. The most recent guidelines focus on a personâs overall risk and, based on that risk, recommend a certain percentage of LDL reduction as one part of a strategy for preventing serious heart and vascular problems.
  • High-density lipoproteins . This is the “good cholesterol.” It transports bad cholesterol from the blood to the liver, where it is excreted by the body. Your HDL is another part of the equation that identifies the risk of a cardiovascular event. In general, the higher the number the better, although, as with LDL, the emphasis has shifted from specific target numbers to strategies for reducing the overall risk.
  • Triglycerides. Another type of fat in the bloodstream, triglycerides are also linked to heart disease. They are stored in fat cells throughout the body.

If I Need A Fasting Blood Test Am I Allowed To Eat Or Drink Anything

Always Fast 12 Hours Before Your Cholesterol Test

Some tests let you have a few sips of water. However, other tests dont even allow water. You should avoid coffee and gum before a fasting lab test because both substances affect your digestive system and can change the results of your test. You should also avoid alcohol, smoking and exercise.

If you take medications, continue taking them as normal unless your doctor says otherwise. If you take vitamin/mineral supplements, ask your doctor whether you should continue to take those.

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Whats Behind The New Recommendation

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.

Can I Drink Water Before A Blood Test

Yes, you can drink water while fasting before a blood testin fact, drinking plenty of water can help ensure that you receive accurate test results. Dehydration can affect certain blood tests such as cholesterol, electrolyte and BUN tests. Be sure to stay hydrated before your test by drinking the recommended amount of water for your weight and activity level.

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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About Fasting Before A Blood Test

Be sure to talk to your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about fasting.

You should talk to your provider before taking any lab test. Most tests donât require fasting or other special preparations. For others, you may need to avoid certain foods, medicines, or activities. Taking the right steps before testing helps ensure your results will be accurate.

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What Do Cholesterol Test Numbers Mean

Good Cholesterol âHDLâ May Not Protect You From Heart ...

If you have a lipoprotein profile, it’s important to look at all the numbers from the cholesterol test, not just the total cholesterol number. That’s because LDL and HDL levels are two primary indicators of potential heart disease. Use the information below to interpret your results . This will help you get a better idea about your risk for heart disease.

Total blood cholesterol level:

  • High risk: 240 mg/dL and above
  • Borderline high risk: 200-239 mg/dL
  • Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL
  • Borderline high risk: 150-199 mg/dL
  • Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL

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