Fasting for 12 hours before a cholesterol test is unnecessary, according to new evidence that contradicts assumptions that a full stomach causes inaccurate test results.
Research by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that non-fasting tests are just as good at predicting heart and artery disease.
The study has also helped resolve controversy over which blood tests are best. It shows that measuring total and “good”, or high density lipoprotein (HDL), cholesterol is just as useful as testing for apolipoprotein.
It also found that triglyceride tests do not provide any valuable extra information about heart disease risk.
Says BHF medical director Professor Peter Weissberg: “Given the financial pressure the NHS is under, it’s good news that doctors don’t need to spend money on setting up more sophisticated tests based on apolipoproteins.
“But the study underlines the importance of all GPs being able to measure HDL cholesterol as well as total cholesterol, in order to make the best predictions about heart disease risk.”