Home Cholesterol Tests
Are They Right For You?
There are a wide variety of home cholesterol tests on the market today. But how useful and how reliable are their results? This article will explore the benefits and drawbacks of home cholesterol test kits.
Advantages of Home Cholesterol Test Kits
The first benefit of a home cholesterol test is that they are much faster than a laboratory test in a doctorís office. If you donít mind pricking your finger and putting a few drops of blood on a test strip or in a testing well, you can get the results in a few minutes instead of days.
The second benefit is that a home test is much cheaper than a doctorís visit and a laboratory test. There is an initial investment for the testing machine, but after that all you have to pay for are replacement testing strips once the initial supply runs out. If you use a home testing kit that uses a testing well instead of a strip, you donít even have to pay for that (just make sure you clean the well after every test to avoid skewing future results).
Disadvantages of Home Cholesterol Test Kits
The main disadvantage of a home cholesterol tests is that they donít give you enough information to be terribly useful. Home tests such as CholesTrak, Home Access Instant Cholesterol Test, or First Check Home Cholesterol Test only tell you the total cholesterol in your bloodstream. Although better than nothing, this isnít really enough information to assess your cardiovascular health or your risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is comprised of several different particles that carry it throughout your bloodstream. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are the ďbadĒ cholesterol, causing cholesterol build-up in your arteries (leading to high blood pressure) and even artery blockages (leading to heart attacks). Triglycerides are another fat-carrying particle that can cause arterial cholesterol build-up. In contrast, High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the ďgoodĒ cholesterol, which helps prevent cholesterol from building up in your arteries.
The problem with most cholesterol testing kits measuring only your total cholesterol is that it makes no distinction between the healthy HDL cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol. Many also donít measure triglycerides at all. If you are on a cholesterol-lowering medication, diet, or exercise routine, it will be difficult to measure your progress.
There are a few home cholesterol testing kits that provide you with more useful information. Cardio Check and the Lifestream Personal Cholesterol Monitor both measure triglycerides and HDL cholesterol. Unfortunately, they donít measure the harmful LDL cholesterol, require three finger pricks for their measurements, and each cost over $100.
Is a Home Cholesterol Test Kit Right for You?
If you are a relatively healthy person just wants to save some money by avoiding the periodic expensive laboratory test, using a home cholesterol test kit instead is a bad idea. It wonít tell you the important information you need to know to accurately judge your cardiovascular health.
A cholesterol test is only recommended once every five years for a healthy young person. When you conduct cholesterol tests so rarely, itís important to get the most accurate information possible from a professional laboratory test.
On the other hand, if you are someone who has to keep a very close eye on your cholesterol levels due to health problems, a home cholesterol testing kit might be useful. Some information about your cholesterol is better than none, and you can conduct many cholesterol tests relatively cheaply.
Just remember to continue seeing your doctor for laboratory cholesterol tests to get the detailed information you need to accurately measure your progress in lowering your cholesterol. The important thing to remember is that a home cholesterol test is not a replacement for a professional laboratory testóat best, it is only a supplement.
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