Home Cholesterol Test
When taking a cholesterol test at home, 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. This type of test measures total cholesterol, which means you can still have a low HDL level or a high LDL level.
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 medical professional will probably want to monitor your situation more closely.
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 test at home, only look at total cholesterol.
The purpose of a home cholesterol test is to measure total cholesterol to see if a person has high 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 another type of cholesterol known as VLDL, or very low density lipoprotein.
You prick your finger with a lancet to get a drop of blood. Then you 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 testing kits use a small machine to tell you how much cholesterol is in the sample.