Who should have a cholestrol test?
You should have a cholestrol test if:-
– you have any type of heart disease
– you have a family history of high cholestrol
– you are over the age of 35 and smoke, or have a family history of heart disease, or you are diabetic, or you suffer with high blood pressure.
– you are already on medication for high cholestrol.
Some experts are even saying that it is sensible for everyone over the age of 20 to have a cholestrol test every 5 years. cholestrol testing is important because high cholestrol generally has no symptoms and it causes heart disease.
The cholestrol Test
You may have your cholestrol tested by your own doctor, at a hospital or sometimes you can have your cholestrol checked by a mobile health education unit.
If you go to the doctor or hospital to have your cholestrol test you will generally have a fasting blood test. This simply means that you will be asked not to eat anything for about 12 hours prior to the blood test so that all the food you have eaten has been digested. You may have had fasting tests before if you have ever had your blood sugar checked.
There are no side effects to having a cholestrol test, it is a simple blood test.
The nurse or doctor will either draw blood from a vein with a needle and syringe or use a thumb/finger prick test. Your blood plasma will then be analyzed and commonly you will be given a Total cholestrol reading and a Total cholestrol to HDL cholestrol (good cholestrol) ratio which assesses your risk of heart disease.
A healthy Total cholestrol reading is between 190-210mg/dl or between 4.9 and 5.4 mmol/l. If your cholestrol test shows that you have a Total cholestrol above this level then you will be diagnosed as having high cholestrol.
The Total cholestrol to HDL cholestrol ratio is used to get a better idea of your risk of heart disease. A healthy TC:HDL ratio is 3.5:1 or below, a medium risk ratio is above 5:1 and you are at a high risk of heart disease if your ratio is above 8:1.
If you are diagnosed with high cholestrol your doctor will then discuss treatment. In the beginning this will involve a change of lifestyle – healthy diet and exercise. If this is not effective or your cholestrol is very high then you may be prescribed cholestrol lowering medication.
Home cholestrol tests
You can now purchase a cholestrol test kit for use in your own home. Some of these kits work by pricking your finger with the lancet provided, dropping a bead of blood onto the stick or strip, waiting a few minutes and then comparing the colour of the test strip with the colour chart. This will give you an idea of your Total cholestrol reading.
Other kits will test both your Total cholestrol and your HDL cholestrol to give more information about your risk of heart disease.
Follow the kit instructions carefully and make an appointment with your doctor if you find you have border-line or high cholestrol. Your doctor will probably repeat the test and then advise you accordingly.