Cholesterol Self Test
A cholesterol test that is performed at home can be as accurate as a test at your doctor's office, if you follow the directions carefully. Most cholesterol self tests only measure total cholesterol, which can be misleading, because you can still have a low HDL level or a high LDL level. When testing your own cholesterol, you prick your finger to get a drop of blood. Then you place the blood on special paper, which changes color based on the level of cholesterol.
What Is a Cholesterol Self Test?
Having a blood cholesterol test is the only way to determine if you have high cholesterol. If you are 19 or older, you should have a cholesterol test once every five years; however, if you are already at risk for heart disease, your healthcare provider will most likely want to monitor your cholesterol levels more frequently.
There are several types of cholesterol tests available. Each test can look at different components of cholesterol and fats in the blood, including:
- Total cholesterol
- Low density lipoprotein (LDL) -- known as the "bad cholesterol"
- High density lipoprotein (HDL) -- known as the "good cholesterol"
Some tests, like a lipid profile (also known as a lipid panel) done at the doctor's office, will look at all four components. Other tests, like a cholesterol self test, only look at total cholesterol.
The Purpose of Self-Testing Your CholesterolThe purpose of a cholesterol self test is to measure total cholesterol. Total cholesterol, as the name implies, is the total amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Total cholesterol mostly combines levels of HDL, LDL, and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein).
How Does the Test Work?
When self-testing your cholesterol, you prick your finger with a lancet to get a drop of blood. Then, put the drop of blood on a piece of paper that contains special chemicals. The paper will change color, depending on how much cholesterol is in your blood. Some cholesterol self testing kits use a small machine to tell you how much cholesterol is in the sample.