Fasting May No Longer Be Needed for Cholesterol Testing

By Emily Murray

While fasting for blood work isn’t the end of the world I think we can all agree it is a bit of an inconvenience. A new study, however, has revealed that when it comes to cholesterol screening we may no longer need to go sans food in order to get accurate results.

Earlier this week the information regarding this study was released in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Currently it’s advised that you refrain from eating within 8 hours of the test but when the information of 210,000 adults tested in 2011 was studied closely, it was recognized that HDL levels (known as “good cholesterol”) remain very close to the same whether or not the person has fasted.

The main concern however is the LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels can be thrown of by as much as 10% if food is consumed before testing. This may affect the recommendation a doctor would normally make in regard to prescribing cholesterol lowering medications.

So why would this new study show that fasting isn’t necessary?

Think about how many times you’ve been asked to do blood work only to realize you have to make a separate appointment since you haven’t already been fasting? Not only is it annoying, but chances are you may end up putting the testing off. Doctors are beginning to see this as a pattern and are coming to recognize that even having a sample that may be slightly skewed is better than not having any cholesterol readings to go off of.

In certain cases a fasting follow up may be recommended but in general the first test should be enough to give doctors a better understanding of your health.

Why is it important to get your cholesterol tested?

 If your cholesterol levels are elevated, it’s important to recognize this and in many cases receive medication to help lower it. Increased levels of bad cholesterol can lead to heart disease and other health complications.