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How is it used?

Cholesterol is different from most tests in that it is not used to diagnose or monitor a disease but is used to estimate risk of developing a disease — specifically heart disease. Because high blood cholesterol has been associated with hardening of the arteries, heart disease and a raised risk of death from heart attacks, cholesterol testing is considered a routine part of preventive health care.

When is it ordered?

Cholesterol testing is recommended as a screening test to be done on all adults at least once every five years. It is frequently done in conjunction with a routine physical exam. It is usually ordered in combination with other tests including HDL, LDL, and triglycerides — often called a lipid profile.

Cholesterol is tested at more frequent intervals (often several times per year) in patients who have been prescribed diet and/or drugs to lower their cholesterol.The test is used to track how well these measures are succeeding in lowering cholesterol to desired levels and in turn lowering the risk of developing heart disease.

Cholesterol should be measured when a person is healthy. Blood cholesterol is temporarily low during acute illness, immediately following a heart attack, or during stress (like from surgery or an accident). You should wait at least 6 weeks after any illness to have cholesterol measured.

It is not necessary to fast when you have a cholesterol test. Cholesterol does not change in response to a single meal. Cholesterol does change in response to changes in long term patterns of eating — like changing from a high fat diet to a low fat diet — but it takes several weeks to see changes in blood cholesterol in response to changes in diet.

*This information was extracted from an excellent website.http://labtestsonline.org.For further information, explore their website or speak to your physician.

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