This is a post in Dr. Kal’s HOW TO Series.
If you are in the midst of a weight loss plan or thinking about devising one, getting your cholesterol tested may provide some benefit to you. It’s an easy procedure made all the easier by the fact that you can do it at home. In this post I will give an overview of two different ways you can cholesterol test at home – with a test that can give you your total cholesterol in 10 minutes, or a mail-in-lab test.
Why Get Tested?
If you’ve been working out, dieting, or generally living a healthier life to lose weight and lower your cholesterol, cholesterol testing is a way to check up on yourself and earn a little reward – yes, that work you are doing is …working! With a strict regimen of diet or exercise it won’t take long for your cholesterol levels to be positively affected
So take a test at home and see how your efforts are working. And just as importantly, test your cholesterol to make sure at least that it is not getting worse – if it is, other/additional solutions will be needed to control your levels.
If you’re thinking about making some lifestyle changes toward better health, getting your cholesterol checked may function as a wake-up call. No one is a stranger to irresponsible behavior, and unfortunately cholesterol can reflect almost every irresponsible action out there: smoking, drinking too much, eating poorly, and not taking care of your body.
Testing is for Everyone
You may think you are too young for your cholesterol to be affected by these habits, but high cholesterol afflicts the young too. That’s why the NCEP recommends that every five years everyone who is 20 years or older get their cholesterol tested via a fasting lipoprotein profile (which means that total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides are all measured). If you have high cholesterol, risk factors for heart disease, or are over a certain age (45 for men, 50 for women) you should get your cholesterol tested more frequently.
How to Test it Yourself
So now you are perhaps thinking “all right, how do I get my cholesterol tested?” Of course, you can visit your doctor. However there are two methods of testing your cholesterol that I want to cover that don’t even require that you leave your house.
The first one allows you to learn your total cholesterol. Total cholesterol can give you a general idea of how you are doing – is your cholesterol “Desirable,” “Borderline-High,” or “High”? “Desirable” means you have a low-risk of heart disease and “High” indicates a high risk. Performing this FDA Cleared test, called the CholesTrak, is rather simple (and it includes 2 tests so you can check your cholesterol later and see if any changes have occurred).
Following the instructions, nick your finger with the included lancet, and put a few drops in the designated blood well on your test unit. Wait 3 minutes and pull a tab on the side of the test to start the reaction that will tell you your results. In about ten minutes a window on the test indicating that the test is complete will turn green, and you can read the results like a thermometer and with your included chart as a companion.
The second test requires fasting and is a full lipoprotein profile like that suggested by the NCEP. As with the other test, you puncture your finger with a lancet and place the drops on a Specimen Collection Card.
The card is then sent to a CLIA-certified laboratory where they analyze total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, & glucose, and from which is mailed a report detailing your results. No, it’s not as fast as the Cholestrak method, but it is more detailed.
Regardless of how you choose to test your cholesterol, make sure you test it! Testing is an important preventive measure that helps you understand your risk for heart disease. If you’re working to ensure your cholesterol is low, chances are your efforts will lead to innumerable other health benefits too.