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How often should I have cholesterol blood tests done?

by 432 · August 09, 2012 at 02:00 AM

I am wondering how often I should realistically get my cholesterol blood levels checked. I started eating Paleo a few months ago in the Spring. I got blood tests done to get a baseline starting point. [The results, if interested: Cholesterol 162, Triglycerides 83, HDL 65, LDL 81]

I am wondering how long I should wait or when it would be realistic to notice changes in the levels. In doing a search here, I saw one PHer tested every 6 weeks. I was thinking more along the lines of every 6 months or once a year. What do you think is a realistic time to retest given my original numbers? And should I maintain that testing frequency, or increase the time span for future tests?

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5179 · August 09, 2012 at 02:00 AM

According to the American Heart Association:

All adults age 20 or older should have a fasting lipoprotein profile — which measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides — once every five years. The Third Report of the Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III or ATP III) was released in 2001. It recommends that everyone age 20 and older have a fasting "lipoprotein profile" every five years. This test is done after a 9–12-hour fast without food, liquids or pills. It gives information about total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

You may need to have your cholesterol checked more often than every five years if one or more of these situations applies to you:

  • Your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL
    or more.

  • You are a man over age 45 or a woman over age 50.

  • Your HDL (good) cholesterol is less
    than 40 mg/dL.

  • You have other risk factors for
    heart disease and stroke.

I usually have my lipid panel done once a year when I have my yearly check-up. However, I am a woman over the age of 50 and I have a familial history for heart disease. I'd guess that if it's been a few months since you've been on a paleo diet you could have your panel checked again. Will your insurance (if you have it) pay for it?

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26073 · August 09, 2012 at 01:54 AM

I would think that once every other year is sufficient for most people. If you see a change, then once every 6 months until the trend is established (either up, or just a blip).

I think measuring more than that would lead to putting too much stock in a number we don't totally understand.

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