Why is cholesterol testing important?
High cholesterol usually has no symptoms. That’s why it’s important to have your doctor check your cholesterol levels.
A simple blood test will shed light on your cholesterol levels and allow you to make informed decisions about your health.
What to expect
- Your doctor will tell you if you should fast before your test. (Fasting means not having food, beverages, and medications.) The period of fasting before a cholesterol test is usually 9 to 12 hours.
- In the test, a small sample of blood will be taken. If additional blood tests are needed, all the samples are usually taken at once. Any discomfort is minor.
- After the blood sample is taken, it’s analyzed in a laboratory, where the levels of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides are measured. Your test report will show your cholesterol level in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL).
How often should cholesterol be checked?
The American Heart Association recommends that all normal-risk adults 20 or older have their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years (more often if at an elevated risk of heart attack or stroke). After age 40, you may need to get checked more often. Refer to your doctor for your specific needs.
Those with cardiovascular disease, and those at elevated risk, may need their cholesterol and other risk factors assessed more often.
Your doctor will explain what your cholesterol levels mean and can discuss treatment options if your numbers are not where they should be.