The requirement to fast before a cholesterol check can be a major inconvenience. People who forget to fast may be told to reschedule their appointments. For those who remember, sitting in a doctor's waiting room with a growling stomach can make for a rough start to the day.
Now a large new study shows that cholesterol levels aren't radically different in people who ate compared to those who fasted before their blood was drawn.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests that people may not need to fast before they get a cholesterol test.
"This information is actually very, very interesting. It might change how we approach a patient," says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Researchers say the small differences noted in the study may matter for some, including those who are taking specific medications to lower their cholesterol or triglycerides. Those patients may still need fasting tests. But for many others, eating may not make a difference.
Read more from WebMD.