When to Have a Cholesterol Test
Doctors use different guidelines to decide when a person should have a cholesterol test. Your doctor might suggest a test based on your age or your risk factors for heart disease.
Talk to your doctor about when a cholesterol test is right for you.
When should adults get tested?
Other organizations recommend cholesterol tests based on age and risk factors for heart disease. For example, a test might be recommended for all teens and young adults ages 17 to 21 years. Or a test might be recommended for any adult who has strong risk factors for heart disease.
How often should adults get tested?
How often you should get a cholesterol test depends on your cholesterol level, your other health problems, and your overall chance of heart disease.
The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), an expert group of doctors and scientists affiliated with the National Institutes of Health, recommends that all people older than age 20 have a cholesterol test every 5 years.1
An adult who is being treated for high cholesterol may need more frequent tests, depending on his or her cholesterol level and the type of treatment being used.
An adult who has coronary artery disease should have a cholesterol test at least once a year.
When should children get tested?
Your child's doctor may suggest a cholesterol test for your child or teen based on your child's age, family history, or a physical exam.4
For more information, see Cholesterol in Children and Teens.
Should I get a public cholesterol test?
Public cholesterol testing can be convenient and helpful. But most doctors will want to verify public test results. Because the doctor can evaluate risk factors and provide counseling, having your cholesterol level checked during a doctor visit is the preferred method.
The reliability of public cholesterol tests at health fairs, malls, drugstores, and other sites depends on many factors, including:
You may wish to ask the technicians how much training they have had and how your blood sample will be handled.
For more information, see:
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