Must You Fast Before a Cholesterol Test? Maybe Not.

In a just published study, some of the more significant numbers done as part of a routine cholesterol test were not significantly different between patients who ate before the exam and those that did not.

Overall, the mean cholesterol subclass levels varied by less than 2% for total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, by less than 10% for calculated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and by less than 20% for triglycerides, reported Christopher Naugler, MSc, MD, of the University of Calgary in Alberta, and colleagues.

“This finding suggests that fasting for routine lipid level determinations is largely unnecessary,” they said in the Nov. 12 Archives of Internal Medicine.

But there are, of course, caveats, especially for us Suddenly Solos. The researchers noted that the relatively low mean age of the study participants (53) and low total cholesterol at baseline (183 mg/dL) might preclude these results from applying to higher-risk patients. Despite this, they praised the study as one of the largest in North America to examine fasting versus not fasting before cholesterol testing.

The take-away for most of us is this: it is better to have a test done even if you forgot to fast than not to have one at all.  Be sure and tell your physician if and when you ate before the exam to take that into account when evaluating your results!


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