cholesterol test

How Long Should I Fast to Prepare for a Cholesterol Test

Becoming a responsible and healthy adult is essential for a meaningful and fulfilling life. It means taking good care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. This crucial responsibility also means making informed choices about your lifestyle and regularly monitoring your cholesterol levels. 

While these fatty substances are vital to your metabolic, hormonal, and cellular functions, high cholesterol levels can clog your arteries and cause heart issues. It's also become even more challenging because it usually doesn't have symptoms. For this reason, you should consider scheduling a cholesterol test, which typically needs you to fast beforehand. 

Whether you'll schedule a lab test or do it at home, this article will explain the significance of fasting and the two types of tests. We’ll also help you prepare for this appointment. 

Why Should You Fast for a Cholesterol Lab Test?

Consuming food and drinks can affect the accuracy of your test results. You must also remember that ingesting too much cholesterol can distort the numbers. Moreover, eating or drinking anything before the test will prevent you from understanding your overall cholesterol levels, including high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides. Not fasting will only make your HDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels reliable. 

2 Types of Cholesterol Tests

Your cholesterol test results and interpretations will differ depending on what kind of test you choose. After explaining the significance of fasting before a test, here are two types of cholesterol tests you can consider. 

1. At-Home Cholesterol Testing

If you want to check your cholesterol levels from the comforts of your home, an at-home cholesterol test is your ideal choice because you don’t need to take a blood sample. Instead, just clean and prick your finger to get a blood sample. After that, you’ll send the test to a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) laboratory. An independent physician will then examine your test results. 

2. In-Clinic Cholesterol Testing

On the other hand, when getting your cholesterol levels tested at a clinic, it’s like getting a regular blood test. Your technician will sterilize your inner elbow and put a tight band around your arm. They’ll then stick a needle into your vein and take some blood into a small container. 

You should also remember that testing for cholesterol is the same, regardless of how you drew the blood—the lab checks for HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. 

Is It Okay to Eat or Drink Before the Test?

If your cholesterol test requires you to fast, you may wonder if there are any exceptions, like having coffee or a small glass of apple juice. However, you can’t consume anything except water when fasting for a blood test. Other types of fasting allow you to drink unsweetened coffee or tea, but that’s not the case for a blood test. 

When Can I Schedule a Cholesterol Test?

Healthcare professionals recommend you schedule a cholesterol test first thing in the morning and fast overnight. It’s because you already don’t eat or drink anything while you sleep and can easily avoid eating after 9:00 p.m. the night before. The fasting and cholesterol lab test process can be daunting, but it will be worth it once you treat yourself to a healthy brunch afterward. 

How to Prepare for a Cholesterol Test

You can effectively prepare for a cholesterol test by eating a heavy meal before fasting and mentally preparing for the needle, especially if you have an intense fear of needles. Also, don’t forget to bring some ice packs and a snack to relieve your hunger afterward. 

Testing for a Healthier You

Whether you do it at home or schedule a lab test, cholesterol tests can be daunting for most adults, especially if you have an intense fear of needles. However, it's necessary to help you make informed and healthier choices. You can maximize the test by fasting correctly and following your healthcare provider's instructions. 

If you need a lab test in the USA to monitor your cholesterol levels, visit RSC Health! We provide fast and affordable lab testing and verify lab results with the shortest turnaround. We also offer follow-up consultations when you need treatment. Contact us now!

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