Your doctor might order a cholesterol test as part of an annual physical exam or if you have risk factors for high blood pressure or heart disease. A cholesterol reading below 200mg/dl reflects healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood. The foods that you eat can affect blood cholesterol test readings in the short term. For this reason you will need to fast before a cholesterol test.
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Discuss any concerns you have about fasting before your cholesterol test. If you have health conditions that are affected if you go for a long stretch without eating, your doctor can provide you with instructions on how to prepare for the test without aggravating any illnesses. In some cases it is possible to receive a cholesterol test without fasting, though the results need to be read in a different manner.
Follow your doctor's instructions about how to take any of your medications before a cholesterol test. Some medications affect the results of cholesterol level blood work. You might be asked to hold off on taking your medications a day or more before your test. Do not skip medications unless instructed by your doctor to do so.
Stop eating 12 hours or more before your blood cholesterol test. Some doctors might request you to fast for up to 14 hours before your test. No food is allowed until after your test. You will not be able to drink fluids other than water during the time that you need to fast.
Schedule your appointment for the morning hours if at all possible. If you have your lab work first thing in the morning, much of the time that you are unable to eat will be at night while you are sleeping. This should make it easier for you to go for such a long stretch without food and beverages. You do not want to schedule your appointment for the middle of the day.
Avoid coffee and tea during your fasting period as well. You might think that it would be harmless to have a cup of coffee or tea in the morning. However, even these liquids can throw off your cholesterol test. You can ask your physician if you can drink black coffee before a cholesterol test since there would be no sugar, creamer or other ingredients added.
Take time for breakfast or lunch before returning to work after your cholesterol test. After not eating for 12 hours or more, your body will need to be refuelled for the rest of the day. Make certain to take the time to eat a healthy and well-balanced meal rather than stopping off at the hospital vending machine.
Tips and warnings
- Discuss the results of your cholesterol test with your physician. He or she will help you determine the best course of action if your cholesterol levels are moderately high or very high.
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