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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Daily Dose

Do you need to fast for a cholesterol screening?

I haven’t had my cholesterol checked in over a decade because I always forget to fast before my annual exam with my gynecologist — who offers the routine blood test that adults are supposed to have at least every five years. I don’t want to bother going back for a separate appointment, which is an inconvenience that keeps a lot of Americans from getting regular cholesterol screenings.

But a study published last Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that most of us can skip the recommended eight-hour fast and still get reliable cholesterol measurements. Canadian researchers examined medical records from nearly 210,000 adults who had their cholesterol levels tested in 2011 and found that total cholesterol levels and levels of high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol, a marker of good heart health, remain fairly steady regardless of whether a person eats within an hour of the test or abstains from eating for up to 16 hours beforehand.

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