Often, if you are only having a cholesterol level done, you can eat beforehand.
If you are having a lipid profile, you should not eat or drink anything except water 9 - 12 hours before having your blood drawn.
How the test will feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the test is performed
Why the Test is Performed
Cholesterol blood tests are done to help you and your doctor better understand your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other problems caused by narrowed or blocked arteries.
A lipid profile may be done:
- To screen all adults and children for high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- To screen adults or children who have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or related problems
- To follow people who have had high cholesterol levels
Some national guidelines recommend having the first cholesterol test done at age 20. Everyone should have their first screening test by age 35 in men, and age 45 in women.
People who have diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure should always have a cholesterol test done, no matter what their age.
Follow-up testing should be done:
- Every 5 years if your results were normal
- More often (about every year) for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or blood flow problems to the legs or feet.
- Every year if you are taking medications to control high cholesterol.
Not all experts agree on when to first check cholesterol levels in children.
- Some experts recommend only screening children who have risk factors, such as a family history of high cholesterol or a family history of heart attacks before age 55 in men, and before age 65 in women.
- Others recommend screening all children, but many experts feel there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against cholesterol screening in children.
Review Date: 05/20/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.