To fast or not to fast: Understanding the new standard of care when testing your cholesterol

Have you had your annual physical completed recently? If so, were you informed fasting was no longer necessary for your lipid panel? Why has this changed? New research suggests that fasting for a lipid panel does not have significant effects on the ASCVD, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk, which your provider calculates to determine if medication management is necessary for you to prevent a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke. A measurement included in the lipid panel that is effected by eating is triglycerides. While this level may be elevated after a meal, it is thought to strengthen the overall risk factor when predicting a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, those with a history of high triglycerides are still recommended to fast when getting a lipid panel. So let’s think about this; we spend most of our day eating or snacking, which illustrates a non-fasting state. So why should we test lipid levels in fasting state? Checking a lipid panel after eating best reflects our baseline levels, therefore, reflecting our true risk for disease. Ask your doctor if skipping meals before your next blood draw is right for you.