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High cholesterol is one of the most common health issues Americans face. Unfortunately, many of them have no idea it’s a problem because there are no obvious symptoms. An at home cholesterol test is a convenient and effective way to assess your cholesterol.
Whether or not high cholesterol is bad depends on whether it is good or bad cholesterol. You want your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol high because it’s the healthy cholesterol your heart needs to function. But if your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is high, it’s bad for your health. This is the kind of cholesterol that builds up in your arteries and blocks blood flow to and from your heart. High LDL cholesterol increases your heart attack and stroke risk. High triglycerides in your blood do the same.
Healthy cholesterol levels are approximately:
In the past, the only way to measure your cholesterol levels was to have your doctor conduct a blood test. But now, there are at home cholesterol tests that help you get an idea of where you stand, so you can improve your diet and make other lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol.
Remember, even if your cholesterol levels are less than ideal, they don’t need to stay that way. Cholesterol is one of the health issues over which most people have a decent amount of control.
Unless your doctor has recently tested your cholesterol and your results were good, you might want to consider an at home cholesterol test. These tests give you a fairly accurate assessment of your cholesterol levels if you aren’t sure and tell you if any recent lifestyle changes you’ve made have improved your numbers.
If you know cholesterol is a problem for you, at home testing is an affordable way to monitor your levels and track any changes as you make adjustments to your diet.
There are three different types of at home cholesterol kits, including:
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many at home tests are accurate and a great tool for managing your cholesterol. But they should never replace a professional medical assessment.
Accuracy of tests also tends to vary from brand to brand, so checking with your doctor before using at home tests is a good idea.
It’s also important to keep in mind that at home tests might not provide comprehensive results. Many only give you your overall cholesterol score, which means you won’t know LDL from HDL. Your test results might be within the normal range, but HDL might be too low and LDL might be too high.
Some people also find it challenging to read test results from tests that do not include a monitor. And even if you can read the results, it’s difficult to understand them without your medical provider’s input.
For many, at home cholesterol tests aren’t very helpful because they don’t know how to interpret the information. At best, they are incomplete, and at worst, they are misleading. It’s always best to undergo testing administered by a healthcare professional.
However, these tests do make a useful supplemental tool if cholesterol is a concern for you. They offer an affordable option if you want to check your cholesterol frequently. Ideally, you’ll work with your doctor and include at home cholesterol testing as part of your overall health plan.
There are several reliable test kits, including:
If you aren’t sure which kit to choose, look for one that has been approved by the FDA and that includes a meter so it’s easier to read. Speak to your doctor if you still aren’t sure which at home cholesterol test is the right one for you.
Harvard Health Publishing. “Cholesterol Testing at Home: It May Be Faster, but Is It Better?” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/cholesterol-testing-at-home-it-may-be-faster-but-is-it-better. Accessed 20 Dec. 2020.