What we measure
This test measures your total cholesterol, which, as the name suggests, is the overall amount of cholesterol in your blood. It’s important because not all cholesterol is created equal: some collects in the walls of your arteries and others work to keep you healthy. By finding out how much you have of each type, we can get a fuller picture of your heart health.
This test can help indicate your risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is a type of fat that our cells and organs need to function properly. It's used to make vitamin D and steroid hormones which keep your bones, teeth, and muscles healthy, and helps you digest the fat you eat.
But when its levels are high this can pose problems, particularly for heart health. High cholesterol often doesn't come with any symptoms, so a test is the only way of finding out if you've got it.
Anyone can have high cholesterol - even if you are young, slim, eat well and exercise. That's because high cholesterol can be caused by different things. It can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, but it can be genetic too.
Some things that might make you more likely to have high cholesterol are being overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of heart disease, smoking cigarettes, or having a sedentary lifestyle.
what to expect
Your results will tell you how much of each type of cholesterol you have and whether this falls within a healthy range. You’ll also get calculated figures that show your total cholesterol and amount of “bad” cholesterol.
Cholesterol is measured in a unit called millimoles per litre (mmol/L), which shows the concentration of a substance within your blood.
If your levels are high, you can take measures to lower them like altering your diet (more oily fish and vegetables, less fatty meat) or exercising more.
Need help? Speak with an expert
Don’t quite understand your results or simply want to see a doctor? We’ve got you sorted.
Speak to a GP
Book an online consultation with one of our GPs. We offer consultations in both English and Chinese.
Just fill out an online form and find a time that’s convenient.
Get a private prescription
Need to get your medication? Our GPs can write private prescriptions.
Tell the GP what the problem is during your consultation and they’ll take it from there. Prescriptions can be picked up at your local pharmacy.
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It is generally recommended to fast prior to having your cholesterol test. Fasting means that you should not eat or drink anything except water for 8-10 hours beforehand.
Your time asleep counts as time fasting, which is why cholesterol tests are often scheduled in the morning
Yes, our tests are safe and accurate. All of our tests are validated by HCPC clinical scientists and GMC registered doctors, and we’re also regulated by the CQC—a quality mark for health services you can trust. Plus, we’re UKAS accredited and listed on the UK government website..
As long as you’ve fasted beforehand, there’s no specific time of the day that’s better than any other for testing cholesterol. But because the fasting period is 8-10 hours, it’s usually more comfortable to get tested in the morning, after you’ve had a good night’s sleep. You can eat again after your test is done.
Your blood fats (that is, your cholesterol and triglycerides) can become raised for a number of reasons, but lifestyle is a major contributing factor:
- Diet – eating a diet high in saturated fats
- Exercise — if you don’t work out regularly, this can increase your levels of “bad” cholesterol
- Being overweight — this can increase your triglycerides, which can then lower your “good” cholesterol levels
- Alcohol — regularly drinking a lot of alcohol can cause your cholesterol to rise
- Smoking — there’s a chemical called acrolein in cigarettes which prevents “good cholesterol” from being transported to the liver
Other factors can also influence your cholesterol:
- Age — cholesterol levels naturally rise as we get older
- Gender — people assigned male at birth are generally at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol. For those with ovaries, cholesterol tends to rise around the time of menopause
- Ethnic group — those from a South Asian background have a higher risk
- Family history — you may be more likely to have high cholesterol if you have a close relative who has had a stroke or coronary heart disease.
Yes! This is the only thing you can drink (and ingest) for 8-10 hours before your test.
This depends on your age, medical history, and whether you have high cholesterol already. As a rule of thumb, though, most healthy adults aged between 40-75 should get tested every five years. Your doctor might suggest being tested more often if you’re at high risk of heart disease or are taking medicines to lower your cholesterol.
People who are younger may choose to get tested if they’re at risk of high cholesterol or are worried about the impacts of their lifestyle.