Before taking a cholesterol test, adults are typically told to fast for up to 12, but that may no longer be necessary.
The study, published Nov. 12 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found the amount of time a person spent fasting prior to a cholesterol test had little impact on the end results.
“This finding suggests that fasting for routine lipid level determinations is largely unnecessary,” wrote the authors.
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A cholesterol test, also called a lipid panel or lipid profile, measures the four types of lipids (fats) found in the blood. It measures low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, sometimes called “bad cholesterol” because high levels of it could lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, potentially causing a heart attack and stroke.
The test also measures high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, sometimes called “good cholesterol” because it helps carry LDL away from the blood. Cholesterol tests also measure total cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood. People are typically told to have no food or liquids other than water for nine to 12 hours before the exam.