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The Scoop on Home Cholesterol Tests

Are Home Cholesterol Tests Really Worth It?

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Updated August 03, 2009

Since 1993, cholesterol tests have been available over-the-counter at local pharmacies. These cholesterol tests have been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration and have some important advantages including:
  • When used correctly, they are accurate up to 95% of the time.
  • Readily available--you don't need a prescription to use one.
  • Relatively inexpensive--the average cost per cholesterol test is about $14.00.
However, there are some drawbacks to using a home cholesterol test which can hurt in the long run, including:
  • Many people forget to fast for at least 9 to 12 hours before using a home cholesterol test, which can cause your test results to be much higher than they actually are.
  • Some home cholesterol tests only give you a total cholesterol reading. Therefore, you will be missing vital information about HDL and LDL levels, which give you a true insight into how bad your cholesterol levels might be.
  • Some individuals, when testing high for cholesterol on one of these tests, may be reluctant to get the follow up care they need.
In this case, your healthcare provider needs to further test you in order to determine how high your different cholesterol levels and triglycerides truly are and to take the appropriate measures to lower them. There are newer home cholesterol tests that are digital and also seem to be highly accurate. These newer tests also give LDL, HDL, triglyceride, and glucose readings. Whether your results are good or bad -- it is best always follow up with your healthcare provider. That way, he or she can check the accuracy of the test, as well as treat your cholesterol levels if they are truely high.
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