The Best At-home Cholesterol Test - Test Kit or Blood Test?

Key Takeaways

  • Cholesterol blood tests measure the amount of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in your body. 
  • There are two types of at-home cholesterol test kits: Self-collection and laboratory-based. 
  • You should have your cholesterol checked every five years starting at the age of 20 if you are at low risk of cardiovascular disease. 
  • Cholesterol tests require fasting, so you should abstain from food or any other liquid other than water for 9-12 hours before you take your test.

When you think of cholesterol, you may think only of the bad cholesterol — LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein). But there are two types of blood cholesterol. There is also good cholesterol – HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein).

The fact is, that you can’t live without cholesterol. You are born with it, and you get more from your mother’s milk or baby formula. It is essential for your body because all your cells and hormones need it to function properly, and it helps the liver manufacture fat-processing acids. 

However, one out of every three American adults has high cholesterol. Having high cholesterol levels means that you are at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke —  two of the leading causes of death in this country. High cholesterol does not have signs or symptoms, so the only way you can find out if your cholesterol levels are abnormal is to take a cholesterol test. A total cholesterol test measures both types of cholesterol and your level of triglycerides. 

In this article, we will review your best options for an at-home cholesterol test, explain how to take one and how to read your results.

What Is an At-home Cholesterol Test?

Taking a cholesterol test at home is safe and confidential. There are two types of at-home cholesterol test kits. These are:

  • Self-collection: With this type of test you will take a pinprick to collect a small blood sample which is added to a test strip. The strip will change color depending on your results.
  • Laboratory-based: Your lab-based cholesterol test kit will contain all the things you need to take a sample, such as sterile swabs, blood sample collection tubes, and a label to mail the sample to a laboratory. Alternatively, you can make an appointment to have a mobile sample collection service, such as Getlabs, come to your home, collect the sample, and take it to a local lab for analysis.

When Should I Consider Getting a Cholesterol Test?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should have your cholesterol checked every five years starting at the age of 20 if you are at low risk of cardiovascular disease. If you have or are at risk of any of the following, or you have a family history of these conditions, you should test your cholesterol more frequently:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)  

How Can I Get a Home Cholesterol Test?

You can have a cholesterol test done at your doctor’s office or purchase a home cholesterol test at your local pharmacy, online retailers such as Amazon, or from a lab. Home test kits vary, some have cholesterol test strips which require a drop of blood and produce results within minutes, while others require sending to a lab for analysis. 

For people who prefer their tests done at home, mobile labs are a popular option because of their reliability, convenience, and affordability. A mobile lab, such as Getlabs, provides a safe and confidential service. After you make an appointment, an experienced phlebotomist visits your home, collects your blood sample, then delivers the sample to a local lab to be analyzed. All you need to do is wait for your results. 

What Should I Do Before My Cholesterol Test?

Although some tests do not require special preparation, typically, you will be required to fast (no food or liquid other than water) for 9-12 hours before you take your cholesterol test. Even if you do not need to fast for your cholesterol test, if you are having other blood tests done at the same time, you may have to. Ask your doctor whether you need to prepare. 

What Should I Do During My Cholesterol Test?

At Getlabs, all of our mobile phlebotomists are dedicated to providing a safe and friendly in-home blood collection service. When your Getlabs specialist arrives at your home, they will first introduce themselves and show you their identification.

During their time inside your home, the specialist will show respect for your personal space, comfort, and privacy. They will maintain cleanliness and professionalism throughout the visit.

Before drawing your blood for your cholesterol test, your specialist will ask you a few questions about your general health. Once you are sitting comfortably in a chair with arms or lying down, your specialist will tie a tourniquet around the upper arm of your choice. This makes your veins easier to see. Your specialist will then sterilize your arm with an antibacterial swab.

After inserting the needle into your vein, your phlebotomist will attach a test tube to collect your blood sample. When the sample has been taken, the needle will be removed. Your specialist will apply a small dressing to the puncture site. Your Getlabs’ phlebotomist will drop off your sample at a local lab for analysis. The test will be completed within 5 minutes.

If you notice any of the following symptoms after your blood draw, you should contact your healthcare professional straight away:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Pain or swelling in your arm
  • Signs of infection at the needle site

When Can I Expect to Know My Cholesterol Levels?

You should receive the results of your cholesterol test within 2-3 days. You will either receive a call from your doctor, or the results may be posted on your laboratory's patient portal. You may also receive a letter in the mail. If your cholesterol level is high, you may need to make a follow-up appointment with your doctor. 

What Do My Cholesterol Levels Mean?

Several factors can affect what your test results mean, such as:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Blood pressure
  • Smoking habits
  • Presence of diabetes

According to the American Heart Association, the ideal range for your total cholesterol levels, HDL and LDL levels, and triglyceride levels are as follows. If your results show that you are outside the ideal range, you should talk to your healthcare provider about treatment, such as statins or supplements, and lifestyle changes to lower your cholesterol and maintain your heart health. 

  • Total cholesterol: Below 200 mg/dl
  • LDL cholesterol: Below 100 mg/dl
  • HDL cholesterol: At or above 60 mg/dl
  • Triglycerides/lipids:  Below 150 mg/dl

Are Home Cholesterol Test Kits Reliable?

Generally, the reliability of FDA-approved (Food and Drug Administration) home cholesterol kits varies. Determining whether you have found a suitable kit can be a challenge. One of the best ways to ensure that you are getting an at-home cholesterol test that will show accurate results is to opt for a test with a mobile collection service like Getlabs.

Have Your Cholesterol Levels Checked at Home with Getlabs

Regular testing of your cholesterol levels is recommended. How often will depend on your age, your current health, and your medical history. One of the safest, easiest, and most confidential ways to get an accurate cholesterol test at home is with a mobile lab service. When you make an appointment with Getlabs, you can rest assured that we will deliver personal healthcare directly to you. 

A local phlebotomist will draw your cholesterol test blood sample at home and drop off the sample with the analyzer at Labcorp and Quest. We also have a wide range of other health tests available if you need other samples taken at the same time, such as a lipid panel or blood glucose test.

Book an Appointment

Getlabs delivers healthcare to you. Our specialists come to you to collect your labs and deliver them to Labcorp and Quest for testing. We’re available same-day, nationwide.

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