Cholesterol and Triglycerides Tests
Why It Is Done
Cholesterol and triglyceride testing is done:
- As part of a routine physical exam to screen for a lipid disorder.
- To check your response to medicines used to treat lipid disorders.
- To help find your risk of having heart and blood flow problems, including heart attack and stroke.
- If you have unusual symptoms, such as yellow fatty deposits in the skin (xanthomas), which may be caused by a rare genetic disease that causes very high cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol and triglyceride screening
Talk to your doctor about when you should get a cholesterol test.
Some health organizations recommend that everyone ages 20 to 79 be checked every 4 to 6 years for the risk of heart attack and stroke, which includes a cholesterol test.1 Other organizations recommend cholesterol tests based on age and risk factors for heart disease.2
For more information, see When to Have a Cholesterol Test.
How To Prepare
Preparation may depend on the type of test you are having. You may or may not have to fast.
- If your doctor tells you to fast before your test, do not eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before having your blood drawn. Usually, you are allowed to take your medicines with water the morning of the test. Fasting is not always necessary, but it may be recommended.
- Do not eat high-fat foods the night before the test.
- Do not drink alcohol or exercise strenuously before the test.
Many medicines may affect the results of this test. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the nonprescription and prescription medicines and herbs or natural substances you take.
Tell your doctor if you have had a test such as a thyroid or bone scan that uses a radioactive substance within the last 7 days.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).