What Does This Shift Mean
Everyone wins with this change. People dont like to fast overnight. Some find it difficult to do, others are even harmed by it, such as those who faint from fasting and people with diabetes who take medications to lower blood sugar. The new recommendation means you can have your blood drawn when its most convenient for you, rather than early in the day.
Herbs And Vitamins That Sabotage Lab Tests
Joseph Lamb, MD, director of intramural clinical research at Metagenics, Inc., in Gig Harbor, Washington. He has authored numerous articles on nutritional supplements in scientific publications such as Nutrition Research.
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Getting Ready For Your Test
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How Should I Prepare For My Cholesterol Test
If you arent already taking cholesterol medications, it may not be necessary to fast.
Depending on your situation, your doctor might recommend drinking only water and avoiding food, other drinks, and certain medications in order to make sure your results are accurate.
What else should you avoid? Alcohol. Drinking within 24 hours before your test can affect your triglyceride levels.
About Normal Ranges And Interpreting The Numbers
When you look at a printout of your lab results, youll find the normal ranges for each blood test next to your personal results. For example, if your routine blood work includes a test for calcium in the blood, your lab may list the normal range for calcium as 8.3 to 9.9 milligrams per deciliter . If your result is a 9.1 mg/dL, right in the middle, you can feel confident that your calcium level is normal.
But what if a blood test result is at the very low or high end of normal, or even slightly outside the normal range? Is that a red flag? Dont jump to conclusions, warns Dr. Salamon. Blood test results can vary a little bit, depending on the lab. And many people are consistently on one side or the other of the normal range, and for them, thats healthy, says Dr. Salamon.
Take, for example, a routine measure of blood urea nitrogen , a waste product created as your body breaks down the protein in your diet. Excess urea is removed from the blood by the kidneys, so high levels of BUN in the blood can indicate that kidney function is declining. So, what does it mean if your BUN level is at the very high end of the normal range? If I see that its borderline high, I might ignore it, says Dr. Salamon. Its common for BUN to go up if you dont drink enough, and that can happen when someone is fasting before having blood drawn.
Minor fluctuations in test results may also reflect
- recent infections
- inaccurate lab procedures.
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Taking Your Meds Too Close To Your Blood Draw
Im breaking this one down into two categories
- If youre on T4 only medication then your T4 levels will show a peak two hours after you take your dose. In this case, its best to take your dose after your blood draw or wait two hours after your dose, at least!
- If youre on combination T4 & T3 medication then its best to take your medication after the blood draw as well. This is because after taking T3 containing medication your TSH will be falsely suppressed for 5 hours. After the 5 hours it will begin to rise for about 8 hours until it stabilizes. Free T3 levels are also falsely elevated immediately after a dose of T3 containing medication, peaking at 4 hours.
Cholesterol Tests At Walgreens
High cholesterol is a very common health issue that has a number of causes and risk factors, including genetics, an unhealthy diet, overweight or a large waist circumference, a lack of exercise, smoking and diabetes. High cholesterol is often treatable and manageable with medications and lifestyle changes. Home cholesterol tests allow you to check your cholesterol level between doctor visits. Walgreens can help you easily purchase home cholesterol tests to keep track of your numbers.
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Why High Cholesterol Treatment Is Important
When you have high levels of cholesterol in your blood, eventually, plaque can build up in your blood vessels and arteries. This can make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries as the space for the blood to get through gets narrower. These conditions together are called heart or cardiovascular disease.
Under these conditions, not as much important oxygen-rich blood will get to the heart. This greatly increases the risk of a heart attack. If enough blood flow doesnt reach your brain, this can cause a stroke. Also, if an artery has too much plaque, it can rupture causing dangerous blood clots. To avoid these life-threatening consequences, proper high cholesterol treatment is important.
What Is Cholesterol And What Does It Do
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the bloodstream and all the cells in the body. Your child can get cholesterol in two ways:
- The liver makes it
- Eating foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat or trans fats
Too much cholesterol can increase your childs risk of heart disease. Your child is at even greater risk of heart disease if he has high LDL .
High cholesterol is screened with a blood test, called a lipid profile. Your child should not eat anything for 12 hours before the blood test. This screening tests your childs total cholesterol, LDL , HDL and triglyceride level.
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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.
You May Be Tempted To Eat As Usual But Heres Why To Skip Eating Before Your Lab Test
A fasting blood test is when youre asked to stop eating or drinking a few hours before a doctor draws your blood. Not all blood tests require fasting. Certain tests require fasting for results that are more accurate. Most of the time, youll be asked to stop having food or liquid anywhere between 8 to 12 hours before your bloodwork, depending on the test. Sometimes your doctor will ask you to fast for 24 hours before a blood test.
For some tests, youre allowed to have a few sips of water, plain coffee or black tea. Other tests dont allow even a sip of water. Many healthcare professionals agree that people should avoid coffee and gum before a fasting lab test. Both substances affect your digestive system, which can change the results of your test.
Fasting may be necessary for a few reasons. Food and drinks affect your results because sugar, fats, enzymes, minerals and cholesterol absorb into your bloodstream. The test youre having may need to keep all of these substances out of your bloodstream for an accurate diagnosis.
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You Skip Your Workouts
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to control your cholesterol. You donât have to run a marathon — 40 minutes of walking, swimming, cycling, or dancing 3 or 4 times a week will do the trick. If youâre short on time, you can break it into 10-minute increments throughout the day. Resistance training — pushups, pullups, weights — may help, too.
Addressing Issues With High Cholesterol
A person cannot directly alter their genetic makeup however, they can reduce the risk factors that are associated with heredity by altering their lifestyle. This means engaging in a healthy lifestyle that is not associated with any type of drug misuse or abuse. Individuals using or abusing drugs or alcohol should become involved in substance use disorder treatment programs to address these issues.
Other common sense interventions to engage in include:
- Eating a balanced diet
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Can I Take The Test At Home
Two main types of at-home cholesterol tests are available:
- Test kits that have you take a blood sample from your finger and send it by mail to a lab.
- Test kits that include an at-home method for analyzing the blood sample from your finger. This may be a small electronic device or a test strip that changes color to indicate cholesterol levels.
At-home tests for total cholesterol may include other cholesterol measurements, such as HDL and LDL, that are part of a typical lipid panel.
How To Get Tested
Cholesterol tests are usually done using blood that is drawn from a vein in your arm. This procedure is typically done in a doctors office, clinic, or medical lab. When the laboratory analyzes your blood, total cholesterol is frequently measured along with other types of cholesterol in a lipid panel test that is ordered by your doctor.
Total cholesterol can also be measured with rapid, point-of-care testing. This kind of test requires putting a drop of blood from your finger on a special test strip that is inserted into a small device, giving results within minutes. Point-of-care testing is used in some medical offices and clinics and may also be found at health fairs.
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How Much Does The Test Cost
There is no standard price for a total cholesterol test. The cost depends on where you take the test as well as coverage that may be provided by your insurance.
Costs of testing can include the office visit, the fee for the technician to draw your blood, and the actual laboratory analysis. If your doctor recommends a cholesterol test, these costs are typically covered by insurance, but, depending on your plan, you may be responsible for copays or a deductible. Your doctor and insurance plan can provide more specific information about your costs for cholesterol testing.
A point-of-care cholesterol test at pharmacies or health clinics may cost around $100 or less. This kind of test may be free at community health fairs or similar events.
There is a wide price range for at-home test kits. Many models include a small device to conduct the test and cost under $150, but more expensive options are available. Kits commonly come with extra test strips that allow you to check your cholesterol more than once.
How Quickly Can Cholesterol Change
These changes vary depending on how strictly a person adheres to their diet, as well as other factors, such as exercise and weight loss. Some dietary changes may cause minor reductions in cholesterol in as little as 4 weeks . Most people can expect to see the difference in a few months on a heart-healthy diet plan.
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Chewing Gum: Does It Affect Test Results
Is it true or just another myth?
Your next patient arrives for a fasting metabolic profile. She says she has been fasting since she went to bed the night before, but you notice she’s chewing gum. Is she fasting or isn’t she?
Most laboratories consider “fasting” to be the complete dietary restriction of everything except water and medications for 10-12 hours. But when patients chew gum, elements of the gum are dissolved by saliva and ingested. A new study just published shed long-overdue light on the often-debated topic.
It is well known that the action of chewing gum causes the stomach to increase its acid concentration in anticipation of incoming food. In fact, the stomach produces as much acid in chewing-induced anticipation as it does to process a cheeseburger. Such acid production has been linked to a simultaneous extraction from the blood of the commonly tested analytes chloride, sodium and CO2. To determine whether the changes in circulating blood during gum-chewing merit its inclusion in fasting instructions, researchers in Lithuania set out to quantify its affects.
Chemistry results not affected by chewing gum include glucose, total protein, cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, albumin, CRP, creatinine, ALP, AST, GGT, LD, calcium, sodium, chloride and free T4. Monocytes, basophils and platelet counts were the hematological parameters not affected.
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:
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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.
Ask If You Need To Fast
Your doctor might just want to check your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels, which arent affected by eating. But if your doctor also wants to look at your LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides , youll need to fast for about 12 hours beforehand, which means no food and no drinks other than water, says Nieca Goldberg, M.D., a cardiologist and director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Womens Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center.
Read our Best Buy Drugs advice on the best drugs for lowering cholesterol.
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Thyroid Hormone Test Results
Other medications can interfere with thyroid laboratory measurements, but not with the actual functioning of the thyroid.
A few examples of these medications include:
- Certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories
Lastly, research has found that the supplement biotin can interfere with the measurement of thyroid blood tests. Therefore, it’s recommended that people who take biotin stop doing so two days prior to having their thyroid blood tests.
Biotin Uses And Supplementation
As mentioned earlier, biotin is present in various pills and supplements you can buy online. For example, biotin can be used for treating alopecia, which is a health condition that makes people lose their hair. Doctors prescribe a dose of 5,000 to 10,000 micrograms of biotin per day to treat such health problems.
At the same time, biotin can also be prescribed to pregnant women to support the healthy development of the baby. There are studies performed by researchers at various universities which prescribe large biotin doses to treat various problems with the nervous system.
For example, multiple sclerosis might be treated with around 300,000 micrograms of biotin per day. Some people also use biotin to treat nail and skin problems since no studies are suggesting that a high amount of biotin can lead to health complications or injuries.
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Farewell To The Fasting Cholesterol Test
- By Naomi D. L. Fisher, MD, Contributor
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. 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.
At a recent meeting I offered a visitor lunch which she declined with obvious regret. She was hungry, and it was noon. But she was headed to her annual physical, and eating beforehand would mean returning another morning for a fasting cholesterol level. Most of us can relate to her annoyance, but thankfully this may soon be a thing of the past.
Doctors have traditionally ordered cholesterol tests to be drawn after an overnight fast. But this requirement causes a significant burden on both sides of the health care equation. Most people hate to fast. Skipping meals is particularly difficult for active people, people with diabetes, and children. Yet coming back for another visit is even more of a hassle, so many people just dont bother. And it has been a drain for doctors, too, resulting in repeat test orders, phone calls, and patient visits.