Tests- Preparing and What to Expect
You should begin to have cholesterol
tests between the ages of 45 to 50 even if you have no other known
risk factors, as age itself is a risk factor. Our cholesterol and triglyceride
levels rise with age, and you could be dangerously affected without
knowing, as there are usually no symptoms of high cholesterol. You should
also begin cholesterol screening early if you have a strong family history
of high cholesterol, heart disease or heart attacks.
When you go to your doctor for testing,
they will look for your blood triglyceride and total cholesterol level.
This is called a lipoprotein analysis or sometimes a lipoprotein
or lipid profile. This is a quick and easy test in which blood is
drawn from the arm through a needle and sent to a lab to look for your
total cholesterol count, LDL cholesterol level, HDL cholesterol level
and triglyceride count.
Your cholesterol ratio and numbers along
with your triglyceride level will tell you what your current risk for
heart disease is so that you can take appropriate measures if needed
to reduce these numbers. This should include the creation of a healthier
lifestyle and natural supplements proven to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride
to safe levels.
It is best to refrain from eating
between nine to twelve hours prior to the test for the most accurate
count, and you should especially stay away from fatty foods just
prior to the test as this may cause an inaccurately high count. Usually
you can still take any needed medications the morning of with small
sips of water, although check with your doctor about this prior to the
test. You should also stay away from alcohol for at least 24 hours as
well as this may also artificially inflate your numbers.
Any physical stress or sickness will
affect your cholesterol ratio, as will thyroid, kidney and liver disease,
diabetes and pregnancy. There are also many medications that create
high counts as well. Discuss all of your known medical conditions and
any medications, herbs and supplements you are currently taking with
your doctor prior to having your cholesterol test. You should also be
sure you know what to expect before you go as well as what is expected
from you in preparation, as it may be slightly different depending on
your particular situation.
Your cholesterol and triglyceride level
are also affected by your age and gender and may very slightly vary
from lab to lab depending on exactly how the test is performed. However,
there are basic guidelines in relation to cholesterol count and triglyceride
level that determine if you are in the normal range or if there is need
for concern. Usually the lab will have your cholesterol ratio and cholesterol
and triglyceride count within a 24-hour period. Talk to your doctor
about when you can expect the results and what your cholesterol test
results will mean for you.
There is very little risk involved in
getting cholesterol testing other than that associated with any other
test that involves drawing blood. It is possible to get some bruising
at the needle site, although applying pressure after the test reduces
this. Occasionally your vein may become swollen and need compression
for a few days, and rarely those will bleeding disorders may experience
ongoing bleeding that may need additional attention. However, blood
tests are overall very safe procedures and are over quickly and easily
while still providing accurate information on your current health.
It is important to have regular cholesterol
and triglyceride tests to determine your risk for heart disease
and the dangerous consequences of heart attack, stroke and premature
death. If you find that you have both high cholesterol and a high triglyceride
level, you are at even greater risk. Your doctor will speak with you
about important lifestyle changes to reduce these levels such as eating
a well-balanced, low-fat diet, getting regular exercise and reducing
stress, alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes.
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