Other Ways to Check Your Cholesterol
You may find public screenings for cholesterol at health fairs, your place of business, or at community events. These are becoming increasingly common as portable cholesterol screening has become easier, with results often given in minutes. Typically, technicians at screenings use a finger-stick sample and a portable testing device to measure test results. This test can provide you with accurate and valuable information.
Why Are Public Screenings Held?
Many different groups offer public screenings. Sometimes companies will offer cholesterol screenings for their employees in an effort to maintain the health and wellness of their staff. Public health organizations will often hold events as well to increase cholesterol awareness and educate the public on the importance of knowing one's cholesterol levels. Sometimes pharmaceutical companies will offer cholesterol screening in an effort to find people whose cholesterol levels may be in a higher-risk range and therefore may warrant pharmaceutical therapy. Typically, there is no harm to taking advantage of such screenings, as they do not commit you to any future obligation.
Free blood cholesterol testing during blood donation is becoming increasingly common. Often blood donor centers are affiliated with hospitals that have laboratories that can easily perform such testing. The testing is typically offered as a thank you to blood donors and to increase overall cholesterol screening. Cholesterol testing is always optional and results will never disqualify blood donors from donating. Like public screenings, blood donation screenings may include only total cholesterol rather than a full lipid profile.
The Value of Public Screenings
The information you get from public screenings may be of limited use. First, since screenings typically occur in informal settings and without advance notice, you will have not fasted the recommended twelve hours prior. Also, certain testing machines are slightly less accurate than others, and public screenings may use more inexpensive, less accurate technology. Lastly, you may not receive a full cholesterol profile and therefore not know the full picture of your cholesterol health.
Your health care provider can provide help with interpreting any results, so share your test results with him or her if you have your cholesterol tested at a public screening. Even if you are able to take only a nonfasting total cholesterol and/or HDL test, it may provide you with helpful information. Keep a record of your results. If it is available, make sure that you obtain the fasting, full lipoprotein profile.
The greatest value of public screenings for cholesterol is in raising awareness of the prevalence of heart disease among the public. Public screenings help people realize that they are in need of further testing and evaluation. One of the greatest risks to your health is a lack of knowledge. Remember, the best method to deal with serious illnesses like a heart attack or stroke is prevention. Also, remember that cholesterol, like blood pressure and diabetes, can be a silent killer, as you have no way of feeling if your cholesterol levels are harmful.