Most people may not have to abstain from everything but water before having a cholesterol test, according to a study that included more than 8,000 subjects from a previous trial of European participants whose fasting and nonfasting cholesterol levels were measured four weeks apart.
The subjects were then followed for a median of just over three years for major heart problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart disease, and heart-related death. The researchers found that fasting or not fasting before a cholesterol test — also called lipid level testing — led to similar results in the same people, and that fasting or not fasting before the test had little effect on predicting the risk for future major heart problems.
The results add to growing evidence that most patients don’t need to fast before having a cholesterol test to determine their future risk of major heart problems, according to the researchers.
“This should reassure healthcare providers and patients that it doesn’t make a difference if you fast or don’t fast if the goal is to predict your cardiovascular risk,” said Dr. Samia Mora, director of the Center for Lipid Metabolomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“We spend most of our lives in a nonfasting state. And for some patients, especially those who are elderly or have diabetes, it can be risky to fast before lipid testing,” Mora added.
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