Is Fasting Required Before a Cholesterol Blood Test?

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A Cholesterol blood test should be performed semi annually as part of a personal wellness plan. This schedule can be difficult for many individuals because of the requirement to fast prior to the blood test. Specifically when having your blood tested for cholesterol the accepted procedure is to “fast” for nine to twelve hours prior to the test. This means not to eat or drink anything (except water) during that period if you want the blood test results to be accurate. Now research suggests that this may not be a steadfast requirement. The new study followed children who had their total cholesterol, high density lipoproteins (HDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides measured twice daily. Researchers found that fasting had no significant impact on total cholesterol or HDL levels. However, there was a nominal increase in LDL levels and a negative effect on the triglyceride levels in children who were fasting. The findings were not conclusive but it does bring hope to those of us who don’t like to skip breakfast.

Fasting may not be necessary for children prior to cholesterol test–study‚ May 4, 2010
According to a new study, the usual practice of fasting overnight before a cholesterol assessment so as not to affect the result may not be necessary in children.

According to a new study, the usual practice of fasting overnight before a cholesterol assessment so as not to affect the result may not be necessary in children.

Some recent studies in adults have established that elimination of fasting prior to lipid tests did not greatly alter the results.

Lead author of the study, Dr Asheley C. Skinner of the University of South Carolina, School of Medicine at Chapel Hill stated, “Cholesterol testing can be very difficult for families
When having to fast, this almost always means the child has to return on another morning for the test, which can be very problematic for busy families.

Data analyzed
In a bid to assess whether lipid tests are reliable without fasting, the researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2006 among kids and adolescents.
All the children were asked to have total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoproteins (HDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides tests either in a morning or afternoon session.

The fasting status of the children was recorded. In addition, factors such as weight, age, race, ethnicity and sex were taken into account.
Findings of the study
The researchers noted that fasting had no significant effect on TC or HDL levels. Meanwhile, there was only a nominal increase on LDL levels in children who had fasted.

However, fasting did exhibit a negative effect on the triglyceride levels.
Skinner stated, “These results suggest it might be acceptable to simply test children immediately during whatever clinical visit prompted the recommendation to test.

“Because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cholesterol screening for a large group of children, these findings could reduce the burden of such screening.

The study has been presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Cholesterol tests
A total cholesterol test is a rough measure of all the cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
Cholesterol is a waxy fat like substance found in all parts of the body. The body requires a small amount of cholesterol to work properly. Too much cholesterol can clog the arteries and lead to heart disease.

Some cholesterol is considered “good” and some is considered “bad.” Different blood tests are needed to individually measure each type of cholesterol.

The general procedure to get accurate results is not to eat or drink anything for nine to 12 hours before the test. Water is allowed but other beverages such as coffee, tea, or soda should be avoided. Drugs are also not allowed as that can affect the test.
by Neharika Sabharwal

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