Physicians normally require fasting to patients before heading to a clinic for cholesterol testing; however, a new guideline revealed that patients can already have their bloods tested without fasting.

A new study headed by Dr. Borge Nordestgaard from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, suggests that fasting or not fasting before blood testing do not have significant effect on the results of the lipid profile, which includes LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol), total cholesterol, and triglycerides.

The international group of experts analyzed 300,000 individual data drawn from a wide number of studies such as those gathered by the Nurses' Health Study, the Heart Protection Study and the Copenhagen General Population Study.

The researchers measured the cholesterol and lipids of the participants who did not fast before cholesterol testing and found no significant changes in the levels of substances being tested in blood chemistry.

According to Nordestgaard, this simple change in the procedure of cholesterol testing could help patients, clinicians and laboratories just like what they did in Denmark last 2009 where they began using non-fasting blood tests for cholesterol levels.

"To improve patient compliance with lipid testing, we therefore recommend the routine use of non-fasting lipid profiles," said researchers.

The findings were highly recommended by large number of international experts from Australia, Europe and United States.

"These recommendations represent a joint consensus statement from the European Atherosclerosis Society and European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine," Nordestgaard said.

The researchers noted that those who have high triglyceride levels; are recovering from pancreatitis; are taking medications that can cause high triglycerides, must still undergo fasting phase before doing a cholesterol test.

Fasting Or Not Fasting

Doctors require patients to do fasting before blood tests, but it is not clear how "fasting" can really affect the results.

It is known that fasting gives a more accurate assessment of blood tests. Patients who need to have their blood drawn for a cholesterol testing must fast for at least eight to 12 hours.

According to cardiologist Samia Mora from the Center for Lipid Metabolomics at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, people spend most of their days in a non-fasting state, meaning the cholesterol test done after fasting state doesn't give a clear picture of what the "normal" level of cholesterol is. 

The new guidelines were published April 26 in the European Heart Journal.

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