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Also known as: Blood Cholesterol
Formal name: Total Cholesterol

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At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To screen for risk of developing heart disease; to monitor effectiveness of lipid-lowering therapy

When to Get Tested?

Screening: as part of a regular health exam with a lipid profile when no risk factors for heart disease are present; adults should be tested once every four to six years; children, teens, and young adults should be tested once between the ages of 9 and 11 and then again between the ages of 17 and 21.

Monitoring: may be done more frequently and at regular intervals when risk factors for heart disease are present, when prior results showed high risk levels, and/or when undergoing treatment for unhealthy lipid levels

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm or from a fingerstick

Test Preparation Needed?

If you are having this test performed as part of the lipid profile, typically you will need to fast for 9-12 hours before the sample is collected; only water is permitted. Your healthcare practitioner may decide that you may be tested without fasting. Follow any instructions you are given and tell the person drawing your blood whether or not you have fasted. For youths without risk factors, testing may be done without fasting.