Fasting before a cholesterol test: know what to do and what to expect
We have all heard of the term cholesterol but very few people know what cholesterol means. Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance found in all the cells of the human body. Cholesterol is required by the body to make hormones, Vitamin D, and substances required for food digestion. Cholesterol is needed to build cells as well as for many metabolic processes. Therefore, some good cholesterol is needed by the body.
The cholesterol in our blood comes from two sources, namely, the food we eat and our liver, which is a vital body organ. Cholesterol and other fats are thus carried in our bloodstream as lipoproteins. Our liver makes cholesterol as needed by our bodies.
You may have heard the saying “excess of anything is bad”. It’s the same with cholesterol. Albeit, cholesterol is an essential nutrient, it being present at high levels can be damaging for our body.
When cholesterol is high, it can lead to:
● Development of fatty deposits in the blood vessels
● It can limit blood flow
● Increase the risk of heart attacks
● Increase the risk of stroke
● Peripheral arterial disease
● Type 2 diabetes
● High blood pressure
High cholesterol levels can lead to several life-threatening problems and diseases. High cholesterol must be immediately diagnosed and treated and for this, a cholesterol test might be conducted.
What is a cholesterol test?
In simple words, a cholesterol test is a medical test or examination conducted to determine the cholesterol levels of a person. The aim of this test is to find out if the person being tested has high or low or normal cholesterol. If his or her cholesterol level is not normal, is either high or low, then how high, or low it is.
Based on the findings of the report, the doctor suggests necessary medications and treatments. Apart from medications and treatments, the treatment for cholesterol issues also requires a person to make diet and lifestyle changes.
How is a cholesterol test conducted? Is fasting necessary before a cholesterol blood test?
The idea of a cholesterol test can make some people anxious. A cholesterol test is a common test, and a lot of people get it done. The test is completely non-invasive and causes zero to minimal pain and discomfort.
If you are about to undergo a cholesterol test and want to make yourself prepared for the test, this article will be helpful for you.
Conducting of the test:
A cholesterol blood test is conducted, and your blood sample is collected from your body. This is usually done by injecting a needle into the nerves near your forearm. The blood sample collected is then sent to the lab for testing.
Is fasting important before a cholesterol test?
The most common advice is to keep a fast for at least 12 hours before a cholesterol blood test. For these 12 hours, the person in question is not allowed to consume any food or liquid until the test is conducted. However, water is allowed during this period.
But recent practice has changed. Doctors suggest that fasting is not required for all tests. Some groups of individuals are allowed to eat and drink before their cholesterol test. So, consult your doctor and follow their advice.
Even though in some cases, fasting is not required, it is advised not to consume fatty, processed food, refined sugar, or deep-fried food items before your cholesterol test. Additionally, it is also advised by some doctors to not consume alcohol before a cholesterol test.
People should avoid such food items in general because they are unhealthy and cause the potential risk of developing high cholesterol, but some doctors specifically advise not consuming these things before the test as they can influence the results.
What to expect during the test procedure?
Having discussed what to do before, it is important to know what to expect during the procedure as well.
It is a quick, simple, easy, and non-invasive process. Let us discuss it step by step.
1. People who have been fasting usually get their tests done first thing in the morning. So, get up, and do not consume any food or liquid except water. Reach the test lab and contact the technician there.
2. The technician will get you seated on a chair and ask you to stretch your arm straight.
3. The technician will then try to find the nerve to attain the blood sample. It is usually extracted from the nerves near the forearm, just around the joints.
4. Next thing, the technician will tie a rubber tube on your arm to make the nerves appear more clearly.
5. He or she will then rub alcohol on the area where the blood will be extracted from.
6. The technician will then insert the needle into the skin and wait for the tube connected to the needle to fill.
7. When the tube is filled, the technician will gently take the needle out and place the cotton on the pricked area.
8. He will then open the tube and fold your arm for the cotton to stay intact.
That’s it! This is what you can expect during your cholesterol test. This blood test is just like any other ordinary blood test so don’t panic. The procedure for sample collection is simple and just like any other blood test.
If you have been advised to take a cholesterol test by your doctor, then you should not delay it at any cost. High or low cholesterol can be problematic and therefore it is advisable to get it done as soon as possible.