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Sunday 24th June 2018

Is fasting necessary for cholesterol test?

11th November 2009

Researchers have indicated that patients do not need to fast before having their cholesterol tested.


A team from Cambridge analysed data from 300,000 people and found that the results were just as accurate even if the patient had eaten before taking the test.

Cholesterol tests have been part of assessing the risk of cardiovascular problems for many years with fasting recommended to enable the body time to digest food and clear fatty particles from the blood to produce an accurate reading.

But it now seems that is not the case following the analysis of data taken from 68 long-term surveys in 21 countries.

Scientists, who published their conclusions in the Journal of the American Medical Association, now hope the study will lead to guidelines being updated.

Lead researcher Professor John Danesh said: “For decades, people have been asked to fast overnight before their cholesterol tests.

“These findings indicate that cholesterol measurements are at least as good - and probably somewhat better - when made without fasting.”

The study has also questioned the measuring of the blood proteins, apolipoproteins.

British Heart Foundation medical director Professor Peter Weissberg said it was good news that more sophisticated tests based on apolipoproteins were apparently no longer needed.

But he added: “The study underlines the importance of all GPs being able to measure HDL cholesterol as well as total cholesterol, in order to make the best predictions about heart disease risk.”

The charity Heart UK said the findings on fasting confirmed what many clinicians already knew.


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