According to a new study, people don't need to fast before their lipid tests as the levels of cholesterol don't vary much in people who took the tests before a meal and those who took the same test after a meal.
Researchers from University of Calgary, Canada, say that eliminating fasting for lipid tests will benefit the patients and they are more likely to get the tests done.
"For routine screening, fasting for cholesterol is largely unnecessary. Eliminating fasting as a general requirement for cholesterol testing could greatly increase convenience for patients without significantly altering test results," said Dr. Christopher Naugler, assistant professor of clinical pathology at the University of Calgary, in Canada, and lead author of the study, HealthDay reports.
Researchers compared the levels of cholesterol and fasting times of 209,180 participants.
Data analysis found that fasting made little difference in the accuracy of the blood test. High density lipid or HDL level varied by less than 2 percent while low density lipid or LDL levels varied by 10 percent and the level of triglycerides varied by 20 percent.
Researchers said that previous work on the subject has found that measuring triglyceride levels four hours after meal is a better way to assess the person's cardiovascular disease risk.
"In our opinion, physicians and health care providers may consider doing non-fasting lipid tests based on the current evidence," said Dr. Samia Mora, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and co-author of an accompanying journal commentary.
Dr. Mora added that a growing body of evidence has supported the idea that "non-fasting lipids are generally not substantially affected by the fasting."
"This information is actually very, very interesting. It might change how we approach a patient," Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told WebMD.
The study is published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.