How Often Should I Have A Cholesterol Test
The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends adults age 20 years or older have a cholesterol test every five years. People who are at risk for heart attack or heart disease or who have a family history of either should be checked more often.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology : “2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults.”
CDC: “Cholesterol Fact Sheet.”
WebMD Medical Reference provided in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: “Understanding Cholesterol Numbers” and “High Cholesterol: Cholesterol Basics.”
American Heart Association: “What Are Healthy Levels of Cholesterol?”
Who Should Get One And How Often
Everyone should get regular cholesterol checks, although the optimal frequency depends on age and certain health risk factors.
The American Heart Association recommends cholesterol testing for most adults every 46 years , starting at the age of 20 years. This testing will continue as long as they have a low risk of stroke or heart attack. After the age of 40 years, a doctor will calculate a persons risk and may suggest more frequent testing.
Some people have an increased risk of developing high cholesterol and may need additional testing. These individuals include:
- people with a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol
- anyone who had high cholesterol levels in a previous test
- people with type 2 diabetes
lower LDL cholesterol levels than males on average, but their levels may increase after menopause.
Children should also undergo cholesterol tests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend testing a childs cholesterol levels once at age 911 years and again between the ages of 17 and 21 years.
Cholesterol testing generally does not take place during puberty because hormones can alter the results of the test.
How Is A Total Cholesterol Test Different From A Direct Ldl Test
A total cholesterol test does not differentiate between good and bad cholesterol, but the bad LDL cholesterol plays an important role in determining cardiovascular disease risk.
In a standard lipid panel, LDL is calculated based on the levels of other fat molecules. However, in some cases, those calculations can be thrown off, especially if a person has high levels of triglycerides. A direct LDL test avoids the need for calculation by measuring LDL specifically.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Are there any risks to having a lipid panel blood test?
- Can lipid panel results be affected by a cold or the flu?
- Should I take my prescription pills before having the test?
- How soon will I find out my results?
- How do I prepare for the test if I have a latex allergy?
- What if I mistakenly eat something within the 8 to 12 hours before I take the test?
How Will My Doctor Use Results From My Cholesterol Test
After reviewing your blood test, The doctor will also consider other risk factors you might have for heart disease, including:
- Your family history
- History of diabetes
- Evidence of elevated blood sugars
Then, your doctor will talk with you about your level of risk and the potential benefit to be derived by taking steps that include changes in your level of activity and diet as well as using medication to improve your cholesterol levels in order to reduce your overall risk.
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Fasting And Cholesterol Tests
For many years, fasting prior to cholesterol tests was recommended in every case. However, increasingly, doctors are reconsidering this recommendation. Research suggests that food intake doesnt affect the accuracy of measurements for total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL.
That said, food before a test can elevate triglyceride levels, so accuracy there does require fasting. Prior to your test, double-check with your doctor about how best to prepare.
Cholesterol tests provide a broader glimpse of your health status. You cant really affect results without making significant, long-term dietary or lifestyle changes . As such, behaviors like steering clear of foods high in cholesterol or saturated fat within a couple of days of your lipid profile wont really affect results.
What Is A1c Testing
A1c test, also referred to as hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin provides information concerning average blood glucose levels during the past 3 months.
The A1C test is based on the attachment of glucose to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Since red blood cells typically live for about 3 months, the A1c value represent a 3 month average. The A1C test result is reported as a percentage. A higher value indicates a higher amount of glucose within the blood stream.
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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 “usual 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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How The Test Is Performed
Cholesterol tests are performed on blood samples taken in a clinic, hospital, or outpatient center. This sample blood is usually collected from a vein in the forearm. Youll feel a pinch when its being taken, and, from start to finish, the procedure typically only takes about five minutes.
A rapid test, which relies on blood collected from a finger prick, can also be given in the clinic or taken at home. These are typically not as accurate or detailed as their standard counterparts.
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Best For Phone Consultations: Mylab Box At Home Cholesterol And Lipids Test
myLAB Box offers a finger prick collection method. This FDA-registered entity states that it works with CAP- and CLIA-certified laboratories.
The company offers free 2-day shipping on home kits. Once a person has collected their blood sample, they should receive their results within 25 days.
myLAB Box states that people do not need to fast or adjust their diet before collecting their sample. It also recommends that people still take any prescription medications until they discuss the test results with a doctor.
A person can also book a consultation with a myLAB Box physician if they receive a positive result.
Price: A test kit costs $89.
A person may wish to consider the advantages and disadvantages of this test.
How Do I Prepare For The Test
You may need to not eat or drink anything but water for 12 to 14 hours before this test. In addition, be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that dont need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.
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What Does The Test Result Mean
In general, healthy lipid levels help to maintain a healthy heart and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke. A healthcare practitioner will take into consideration total cholesterol results and the other components of a lipid profile as well as other risk factors to help determine a person’s overall risk of heart disease, whether treatment is necessary and, if so, which treatment will best help to lower the person’s risk.
In 2002, the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III provided the guidelines for evaluating lipid levels and determining treatment. However, in 2013, the ACC and AHA issued guidelines for adults that made recommendations on who should receive cholesterol-lowing therapy. .
However, use of the updated guidelines remains controversial. Many still use the older guidelines from the NCEP ATP III to evaluate lipid levels and cardiovascular disease risk:
For adults, in a routine setting where testing is done to screen for risk, the test results are grouped in three categories of risk:
For children and adolescents:
- A cholesterol below 170 mg/dL is acceptable.
- A result of 170-199 mg/dL is borderline.
- A total cholesterol reading greater than or equal to 200 mg/dL is considered high.
For young adults:
- A cholesterol below 190 mg/dL is acceptable.
- A result of 190-224 mg/dL is borderline.
- A total cholesterol greater than or equal to 225 mg/dL is considered high.
When To Contact A Doctor
People who receive a positive cholesterol test result should consider seeking medical advice. A doctor can help a person interpret their results and suggest the most suitable treatment plan.
Also, a doctor
Below are answers to common questions about testing cholesterol at home.
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What Does A Cholesterol Test Measure
A complete cholesterol test measures the levels of lipids, or fats, in your blood. It primarily measures your:
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol.HDL cholesterol is referred to as good cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from your blood.
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.LDL cholesterol is referred to as bad cholesterol. Too much of it can cause cholesterol to build up on the walls of your arteries. This raises your risk of heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
- Triglycerides. When you eat, your body breaks down fats in your food into smaller molecules called triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides in your blood increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Having obesity or unmanaged diabetes, drinking too much alcohol, and eating a high calorie diet can all contribute to high triglyceride levels.
- Very low-density lipoprotein . Your blood also contains another type of cholesterol linked to an
In the United States, cholesterol and triglyceride levels are measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood.
Can I Stay With My Child During A Lipid Panel
Parents usually can stay with their child during a blood test. Encourage your child to relax and stay still because tensing muscles can make it harder to draw blood. Your child might want to look away when the needle is inserted and the blood is collected. Help your child to relax by taking slow deep breaths or singing a favorite song.
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Can Test Results Be Wrong
In some cases, cholesterol test results can be wrong. For example, a recent study found that the assumption that VLDL levels are 20 percent of triglyceride levels is less accurate when triglyceride levels exceed 400 mg/dL
Improper fasting, medications, human error, and a variety of other factors can cause your test to produce false negative or false positive results.
Testing both your HDL and LDL levels typically produces more accurate results than checking your LDL alone.
Cholesterol testing is very important if you:
- have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease
4 to 6 years for most healthy adults. People with a family history of high cholesterol or other risk factors may need to get tested more often.
The CDC also recommends that children, adolescents, and young adults have their cholesterol levels checked once between the ages of 9 and 11, and again between 17 and 21.
Getting A Cholesterol Test
We recommend that all adults should get a cholesterol check, no matter what your age or how healthy you feel.
High cholesterol doesn’t usually have any signs or symptoms, and it can be caused by your genes, so we advise getting a check even if you are young, fit and feel healthy.
High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks and strokes. A cholesterol test, along with other simple tests including a blood pressure test, BMI and waist measurement, will give you a good idea of your heart health and show you if you need to make any lifestyle changes or need treatment.
A cholesterol check involves a simple blood test. Your healthcare professional should also check another blood fat called triglycerides, as these also affect your heart health.
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Getting Your Cholesterol Checked
Many people have never had their cholesterol checked, so they dont know whether they are at risk.
High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms.
The only way to know whether you have high cholesterol is to get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team can do a simple blood test, called a lipid profile, to measure your cholesterol levels.
Why Is A Cholesterol Test Useful
A cholesterol test serves as a tool to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.
The test enables a doctor to measure and analyze the levels of fats in the blood. If there is too much cholesterol in the blood, the doctor may recommend treatment to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
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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. If you have cardiovascular disease or elevated risk, you may need more frequent testing. After age 40, your doctor would recommend testing based on your calculated risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
These regular check-ins can guide your doctorâs assessment of whether you need to make lifestyle adjustments or take medication to keep your blood cholesterol within a healthy range.
At-home testing kits can be handy for people diagnosed with high cholesterol who may want to test their blood more frequently.
While home cholesterol testing should not be used as a replacement for the comprehensive diagnostics provided by your physician, it can be an addition to a proactive health regimen.
Here are the best at-home cholesterol test kits that you can use in-between visits with your doctor.
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Who Is At Risk Of High Cholesterol
If you fall under any of these risk factor categories, you may be at risk of having an abnormal cholesterol level:
- Having a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease
- Having diabetes, kidney disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, or underactive thyroid gland
The biomarkers of cholesterol include measured total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides.
Getting The Most From Your Blood Test Results
There are quite a few more tests available, but the ones included here are among the most common.
To get accurate readings, be sure to follow your doctors instructions in preparing for tests. You may, for example, be asked not to eat and to drink only water for anywhere from a few hours to 12 hours beforehand.
Please follow these instructions, or your results may be skewed, requiring additional tests or even unnecessary medications.
If you dont understand something in your results, remember its okay to ask questions. Doctors are busy people, but you are entitled to the information. If your doctor cant provide it, ask the nurse or physicians assistant for help.
Knowing where you stand with these important parameters is essential for being proactive and owning your own health.We hope you find this guide handy and helpful the next time your doctor orders a blood panel.
Take good care.
Disclaimer: Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Feb 23, 2021Originally Published: August 20, 2012
How Is A Total Cholesterol Test Different From An Hdl Test
HDL is a type of cholesterol that is often referred to as good cholesterol. While HDL is included in total cholesterol, an HDL test measures the amount of this specific kind of cholesterol in the blood.
Total cholesterol and HDL are minimally affected by recent food consumption, so non-fasting cholesterol tests frequently include these two measurements. In some people, these measurements are sufficient to calculate a persons level of bad cholesterol.
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What Is An At
Much like a cholesterol test you might take at a healthcare facility, at-home cholesterol test kits usually works by taking a sample of your blood. This blood test is used to measure the following:
- HDL cholesterol â Also known as âgood cholesterol,â high-density lipoprotein cholesterol consists of the lipids primarily responsible for transporting excess LDL cholesterol to the liver.
- LDL cholesterol â Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is sometimes called âbad cholesterol.â Thatâs because too much LDL cholesterol can result in arterial blockage, leading to a high risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease.
- Total cholesterol â Total cholesterol is the total measure of HDL and LDL cholesterol present in the body.
- Triglycerides â Triglycerides are excess calories that your body has converted into fats and stored in fat cells. Having high triglyceride levels may lead to health issues, from obesity to diabetes.
How much information the test kit provides depends on the type of test you choose. Some may only give a reading of your total cholesterol, while others may give a breakdown of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. Understanding the difference between LDL vs HDL cholesterol as well as comparing the different kinds of tests available, can help you determine which will provide the information you needâand in a way that works for you.