Back 20 years ago, doctors thought all cholesterol was bad, that all cholesterol would jam up your arteries and cause a heart attack. They thought all bad cholesterol came from fats, which were equally all bad.
Times have changed! Doctors now understand there is GOOD cholesterol - HDL - which keps keep your system clean. There is also BAD cholesterol - LDL - which causes you trouble. What you want to do is maintain high levels of HDL and low levels of LDL. So a total cholesterol test isn't much good - because it just lumps those HDLs with the LDLs. Even if your total cholesterol is high, it could be a "good thing" if most of it is made up of HDL.
There are many types of home cholesterol tests on the market which make watching your cholesterol levels quick and easy. Here are some that might suit your needs.
Basic Cholesterol Test
The most simple home test for cholesterol can be done fully in 15 minutes at your home. Stick your finger, put a drop into the small device and voila! Your total cholesterol level is reported. This might be good if you already have done a full evaluation and know your HDL and LDL levels. It will help you do general maintenance and know if your numbers vary out of the normal for you. But for real health knowledge, you really should have the full HDL and LDL figures done every few years.
Cost is $15 to $30 for a single-use kit.
Full Cholesterol Test
A kit that lets you do your own full cholesterol testing - with HDL, LDL, triglycerides and more - is a bit costly. CardioChek makes one for $185. These work from a single drop of blood, which you put onto a test strip. Depending on which test strip you use, you can determine a variety of things about your cholesterol levels. While not ideal for someone with single-shot curiosity, this is great for a long term measuring tool.
Note that the CardioChek device replaces the older BioScanner 2000, which has been discontinued. Also note that LifeStream, which might appear to be a full cholesterol tester, actually only tests your total cholesterol amount, much like the above single-use tests.
Itís whatís inside that counts.
Draw Blood at Home, Results from Lab
The BioSafe system uses a lancet which they claim is painless. I haven't tried this one yet but this would be a big plus to me. You get a few drops of blood, send it off to BioSafe in the mail, and wait a week or two for the results to be sent back to you. You get to find your total cholesterol, HDL and LDL levels. It also measures triglycerides.
This test isn't available in New York. While it's a pain to wait for the results, this is much cheaper than buying the home full testing unit.
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