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Cholesterol home test kits

Are home cholesterol testing kits a useful and accurate way to check cholesterol levels between appointments with your doctor? Read on to learn whether using a cholesterol home test kit might be right for you and of their reliability.

What is a cholesterol home test kit?

The cholesterol home test kit is a convenient and effective way to test your cholesterol level. It allows you to monitor your cholesterol in the convenience of your own home. And, rather than waiting days or weeks for cholesterol test results, the cholesterol test kit can give you results in a matter of minutes.

How is a cholesterol home test kit used?

You can buy a cholesterol home test kit at your local pharmacy. The standard cholesterol home test kit contains a lancet and test strips.

To use a cholesterol home test kit, you first prick your finger with the lancet. Next, you place the blood droplet on the test strip. The cholesterol home test strip has special chemicals that change colour after a few minutes. You then match the final colour against a colour guide that's included with the kit. This colour will tell you how much cholesterol is in your droplet of blood.

Some new cholesterol home test kits have an electronic meter. This meter functions in a similar way to a diabetes blood glucose meter. The test strips are inserted into the electronic device and a small computer measures the amount of cholesterol automatically. The electronically metered cholesterol home test kit costs more than the paper test strip method. The electronic meter kit, however, is helpful if you want to check your cholesterol level more frequently.

What does the cholesterol home test result mean?

Your cholesterol level is one indication of your risk of developing heart disease. A high level of cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Government advice recommends a target cholesterol level of 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults and 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

If your cholesterol test results are high, you should seek medical advice. A high level may indicate a moderate or higher risk of heart disease. Your doctor can follow up with more cholesterol tests or recommend a cholesterol-lowering diet and exercise plan. Your doctor may also prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication.

The cholesterol kit test results are only an estimate of your cholesterol level. The cholesterol home test kit should be used only to monitor your cholesterol level. While the test is often as accurate as the test your doctor uses, this home test should not be a substitute for your doctor's assessment.

Are results from a cholesterol home test kit reliable?

The reliability of cholesterol home tests varies, and the results can fluctuate. It depends on the maker of the kits. Many cholesterol home test kits advertise that they are greater than 95% accurate. Still, these cholesterol results should be considered approximations and should not take the place of a cholesterol test conducted by your doctor.

The charity Heart UK only recommends having cholesterol tested by a trained professional and does not endorse home cholesterol test kits.

The regulator MHRA says home testing can play an important role in healthcare, but kits and readings shouldn't be relied upon on their own. It also points out testing on the NHS is free, whereas home test kits from shops and online have to be paid for.

It advises people to only buy self-test kits from trusted sources, or after seeking medical advice.

Do not buy a kit if it looks damaged or if seals are broken.

Look for a CE mark which means the kit meets the relevant regulatory requirements.

Even if you consistently get normal results from your cholesterol home kit test strips, it's very important to consult with your doctor. To determine your risk of heart disease, your doctor will evaluate your cholesterol level along with other factors such as your weight, physical examination results, medical history, and family history. Your doctor may conduct other tests aside from the cholesterol screening.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 04, 2014

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