Understanding Your Cholesterol Test Results
How Do I Prepare for My Cholesterol Test?
If your doctor recommends a "non-fasting" cholesterol test, the lab will look only at your total cholesterol (and sometimes your HDL) numbers. For that test, you merely need to show up at the lab and have some blood drawn. If your doctor suggests a "fasting" cholesterol test (also called a "lipid profile"), the lab will analyze your levels of LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. For that test, you will need to fast overnight before the blood test.
Sometimes a doctor will ask you to do a non-fasting cholesterol test first. Depending on the results, he or she may then send you back for the more complete lipid profile.
How Will My Doctor Use Results From My Cholesterol Test?
After reviewing your blood test, along with other risk factors for heart disease, such as your age, weight, diet, blood pressure, exercise habits, and family history, your doctor may recommend that you increase your exercise and make diet changes to improve your cholesterol levels, among other lifestyle changes. Some people also need to take cholesterol medication.
How Often Should I Have A Cholesterol Test?
The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends having a cholesterol test every five years. People who are at risk for heart attack may need to be checked more often.