If it is not possible to get a lipoprotein profile done, knowing your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol can give you a general idea about your cholesterol levels. These tests do not require fasting. If your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or more (or if your HDL is less than 40 mg/dL), you will need to have a lipoprotein profile.
A number of home tests for cholesterol have been approved for use. These tests are about as accurate as the tests done by your doctor; however, most home tests only measure total cholesterol. Total cholesterol levels can be misleading, because a person can have a healthy total cholesterol level and still have a low HDL level or a high LDL level. Therefore, most cholesterol treatment decisions are based on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, not total cholesterol. So think of total cholesterol levels from home cholesterol tests to be overview numbers.
There are several other tests on the market that will look at HDL or LDL in even more detail, such as the HDL2 or HDL3 levels. At this point, most healthcare providers do not recommend them for testing cholesterol.
(Click Cholesterol Numbers to understand what your cholesterol levels mean.)