MINNEAPOLIS - Anyone who has undergone a cholesterol screening knows the procedure. You fast for a number of hours, before a blood test.
But new research shows going hungry, might not be necessary.
Doctors often require patients to fast for nine to twelve hours before a lipid test.
Now a new study out of Canada, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, says fasting before that cholesterol screening had little effect on test results.
High cholesterol can put you at risk of heart disease and stroke.
Many adults have had a cholesterol test, but some have been turned away because they didn't fast.
So University of Calgary researchers looked at data from over 200,000 patients and found fasting times made little difference in results.
There was just a two-percent difference in total and good (HDL) cholesterol readings and ten percent for bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Cardiologist Dr. Bradley Bart of Hennepin County Medical Centerin Minneapolis said other research has suggested this.
So, for years, he has tested patients who forgot to fast.
Bart said, "I just decided, for me, it was more important to have the number than it was to make sure, it was fasting, because if I send the patient home without a cholesterol test, there's a chance they're not going to make it back to get the cholesterol check and then I don't have any information."
Bart said the one exception is with high triglyceride levels. The study found the difference in results there can be up to 20 percent. But he said give the patient the initial test, fasting or not. If it's suspected triglycerides may be an issue, they can come back for a fasting test.