The cholesterol test is not used to diagnose a disease. Instead, measuring cholesterol and knowing the levels of these lipids provides important information on your health and your long-term risk of heart disease and stroke. Together with other cardiovascular risk factors (such as blood pressure, and bodyweight), your cholesterol results can give us an overall picture of your health.
If the blood test results are not within normal limits , this ‘early warning’ allows you to make lifestyle changes and consider treatments to lower your future risk of heart attack and stroke. Making changes on the advice of our doctors can greatly alter your risk.
Some cholesterol tests can be conducted with a finger-prick blood sample, but more detailed testing requires a blood sample collected from a vein in the arm. You will need to fast (go without food and most drink apart from water) for a specified period (usually at least 12 hours) before taking the test. You should still be allowed to drink water and take your normal medications – do not stop taking these unless your doctor advises you to (eg, if the medications would interfere with the test result). People taking blood-thinning medications (eg, aspirin or warfarin), or those with bleeding or clotting problems, should also inform the nurse or laboratory staff of this before the blood sample is taken. If you have previously experienced problems having blood taken, inform the the clinic so we can use a butterfly needle.