You no longer need to fast for most lab work, including cholesterol and sugar tests.
Screening for and managing high cholesterol and blood sugar has gotten a lot easier. You know what I mean if you have ever had to fast until a late morning or afternoon doctor’s appointment to get your cholesterol or blood sugar checked. That is rarely necessary now. As it turns out, total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol are the parts of the lipid (cholesterol) panel that are most highly correlated with heart disease risk and these do not vary a significant amount regardless of whether you are well-fed or fasting.
The newest American Heart Association cardiovascular risk calculator can be found online.
Additionally, diabetes, and prediabetes are screened for and followed by checking the hemoglobin A1C blood test, which gives an estimate of the average blood sugar over the past few months and does not require fasting. Prediabetics have hemoglobin A1Cs between 5.7 and 6.4. Diabetes is defined as a value of 6.5 or above.
There are still some situations where your health care professional may want you to fast or have your labs done at a specific time of day. If this is the case, you will be given instructions on what to do. Follow these instructions carefully as they are important to getting an accurate reading. If you don’t get specific instructions, then find the most convenient time and place for you.
Find a UVM Medical Center Blood Testing Lab location near you by clicking here. Or, call us at 802-847-5121 or 800-991-2799. We have locations in Burlington, Colchester and Williston.
John G. King, MD, MPH, is Vice Chair of Family Medicine at the University of Vermont Medical Center and Professor of Family Medicine at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM.