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Tips For an Accurate Cholesterol Screening at a Health Fair

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Updated December 15, 2012

Health fairs — the place where free pens and cholesterol screenings are overflowing. While health fairs are an important way to find out more about health issues and get tested for chronic diseases, they can also cause you some undue worry. This is the same with the cholesterol screenings offered at health fairs — they can notify you of potentially high cholesterol levels or they can lead you to think that your cholesterol is high when it’s not. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your cholesterol screening at your next health fair:
  • Skip the coffee and donuts they’re offering. they can cause your cholesterol and triglyceride levels to be high when they are truly not. If you want an accurate cholesterol test, don't eat or drink anything (except water) for at least eight hours before your screening.
  • Ask which tests are being performed. When you get your cholesterol tested, make sure that the screen includes HDL, LDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides. This will give you an accurate picture of your entire cholesterol profile. Some cholesterol tests performed at health fairs may just look at total cholesterol levels, which does not provide a complete picture of your cholesterol profile. For example, it may be because you have high HDL levels (good cholesterol), which actually reduces your risk of heart disease.
  • Follow up with your healthcare provider. If your result is high, get a cholesterol panel done at your healthcare provider’s office. This will give you an opportunity to see if your cholesterol levels are truly elevated and discuss treatment options with your health care provider.

Source:

Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (PDF), July 2004, The National Institutes of Heath: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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