If you’ve been for a cholesterol check lately, you’re probably still suffering from hunger pangs. However, a new Canadian study suggests that fasting for a minimum of eight hours pre-test might not really be necessary.
The study analyzed cholesterol test results for a range of 200,000 patients who had recently consumed food (less than one hour before the test) to those who had fasted for more than 16 hours earlier, and they didn’t find much variation. In fact, total cholesterol and “good” HDL cholesterol varied by less than two percent across the range of fasting patients.
Dr. J. Michael Gaziano, a Preventive Cardiologist at VA Boston Healthcare System and Brigham and Women’s Hospital says, “[Fasting] makes for long lines and long waiting times, and if that in any way discourages patients from having [cholesterol] tests done, then that’s a downside.”
On the other hand, eliminating fasting pre-cholesterol test would be more convenient for patients and for labs, by cutting down patient tests the morning when most arrive for testing.
Gaziano also points out that eliminating the fasting requirement might also cut down on the amount of patients who don’t actually show up for their cholesterol test after they find out they need to fast during the initial appointment.
Even though researchers still insist that those with high triglycerides or with diabetes, which is linked to triglyceride and LDL levels, should continue to fast before the tests—those with a relatively low-risk of high cholesterol (less than 200 mg/dL is considered low by the American Heart Association) are safe to have a non-fasting test.
Source: Reuters Health