How to Prepare for a Cholesterol Test
How long should you fast before your cholesterol test?
Hi, I'm Laureen Wallravin, Certified Nutritional Therapist and founder of RelishedFood.com. I'm here today for About.com and we're going to talk about how to prepare for a cholesterol test. If you're over the age of 20, the American Heart Association recommends having your cholesterol tested about once every five years. While it's a fairly simple procedure, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Consider the following:Rather than going in blind, take some time to educate yourself on cholesterol testing so you know what you're getting into. You can begin by familiarizing yourself with the terms like 'total cholesterol,' 'triglycerides,' 'low-density lipoprotein,' or LDL, and 'high-density lipoprotein,' or HDL. A cholesterol test will provide readings for all of these things, so knowing what they are beforehand will help you to better understand your results.It's always best to have your primary care physician conduct your cholesterol test because he or she will weigh the results against your health history, your family's health history, and your risk factors like age, gender, and smoking.Since cholesterol tests measure the amount of fat in your blood stream, your doctor will need to draw samples of your blood in order to run a lipid panel. The goal is to find out how many milligrams of cholesterol are in each deciliter of your blood. Your total cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL, and HDL scores must be considered together, rather than individually.For example, your results may indicate that your total cholesterol is within an acceptable range, but if you have high triglyceride or LDL scores, your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes or treatments based on your individual health needs.Also keep in mind that these scores can mean very different things from person-to-person. Two 50-year-old females may have nearly identical test results, but if one of them has a family history of cardiovascular disease, her doctor may insist that she lower her overall cholesterol, while making no such recommendations to the other woman.Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, you should fast for at least eight-to-12 hours before having blood drawn for your cholesterol test. This means abstaining from food, beverages, and medications, as all of these can skew your results. If you're unable to refrain from eating over prolonged periods, it's a good idea to schedule your cholesterol test as early in the morning as possible, so your 8-to-12 hours without food can be spent sleeping. As the old saying goes: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." There's no reason to fear cholesterol tests, or put them off, as their main purpose is to benefit your future health.Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at about.com.