Genetic tests, chronic infections, and cholesterol tests are now included in at- home medical testing. If done correctly, most at- home cholesterol tests give accurate readings.

“An at- home cholesterol test can help you keep an eye on your cholesterol levels. They don’t replace a lab test, but they can give you a good idea of your cholesterol levels.”

A high cholesterol reading on an at- home test is a good reason to make a medical appointment with a doctor to discuss any changes to your cholesterol levels.

The article will look at the pros and cons of home capillary cholesterol tests, when they should be used, and how to use them.

An at-home cholesterol test is also called a capillary cholesterol test. It uses a drop of your blood to give you a reading of your cholesterol.

“You can get the results in a few minutes with some tests. You will be asked to send your blood sample to the lab in the mail. You can complete the test at home. It is more convenient for people to go to a private doctor’s office than to visit a doctor’s office.”

There are multiple tests and test types available. The right test for you depends on your budget and how quickly you need results. Following instructions exactly as directed is important for accurate results.

Most capillary cholesterol tests measure your total cholesterol. This measurement includes both the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — the “bad” cholesterol — and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) — the “good” cholesterol — in your blood.

Some types of tests can also give you a reading of your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides, but this is much less common. Tests that do show this information are often more expensive or require you to wait longer for lab results.

“The tests that only show total cholesterol can be helpful. You won’t have a complete picture of your cholesterol and cardiac health without knowing your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides.”

If you want to keep an eye on your cholesterol, these tests are helpful.

What’s a desirable cholesterol level?

According to the National Library of Medicine, a desirable total cholesterol level is less than 200 mg/dL. A level of 200 to 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high, while a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.

These are general guidelines. A desirable level may be different depending on your health, other conditions, and medications.

The FDA approves at- home capillary cholesterol test. These tests are only accurate if they are used correctly.

Since these tests are done without help from medical professionals, it is easy to make mistakes which can lead to inaccurate results. Common errors can affect the results.

  • The amount of blood you squeeze from your finger onto the strip is not always right.
  • Not taking the test if you are not fast for at least 8 hours.
  • It is possible to raise your HDL levels above your baseline by doing an intense workout 12 to 24 hours before the test.

Not all brands are the same. Some tests give more detailed results. It is advisable to read reviews of any cholesterol test you are considering buying to ensure it is reliable and accurate.

An at-home capillary cholesterol test isn’t a replacement for a medical appointment. No test will be as accurate as a cholesterol blood test that’s done at a doctor’s office. That doesn’t mean a capillary blood test isn’t worth taking. The test can help you monitor your cholesterol levels and notice any changes.

As a rule, it’s not recommended to take a capillary blood test more than once every 6 months. However, your doctor might have a different recommendation based on your cholesterol and overall heart health.

If you get high results on a capillary cholesterol test, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor.

People who are concerned about their cholesterol can use an at- home test. If you are taking steps to lower your cholesterol, an at- home test can help you track your progress.

Similarly, if you’ve been told your cholesterol is creeping up, or that it’s slightly above average, an at-home test can help you monitor your cholesterol to ensure it doesn’t increase further. You can use the results as a jumping-off point for conversations with your doctor about cholesterol.

Cholesterol tests are popular and offer benefits, but they are not ideal for everyone. Before buying a test, consider the benefits and drawbacks.

Pros:

  • Convenience: Tests are easy to find. You can purchase them at drug stores, grocery stores, and online. Plus, you don’t need a prescription to get one.
  • Speed: Results of some tests are ready in minutes. Even with tests that have to be sent back to a lab, the process is often faster than scheduling a doctor’s appointment and then waiting for results.
  • Comfort: You can do the test right from the comfort of your home at any time of the day or night.
  • Cost: Tests are available at a variety of price points, so you can choose what works best for you.
  • Monitoring: Testing at home can help you keep track of your cholesterol and have data to share with your doctor. This can be especially helpful if you’re trying to stay on track with a new lifestyle plan or new medication.

Cons

  • Many tests only read total cholesterol: You won’t get a picture of your complete heart health without HDL, LDL, and triglyceride readings.
  • It’s easy to make mistakes: Tests are accurate if done correctly, but it can be easy to make mistakes when you’re trying to complete the test on your own. This can affect the accuracy of the test.
  • Inaccurate results can mislead you about your health: Getting inaccurate results can cause you to believe your cholesterol is higher or lower than it truly is.
  • Some tests can be expensive: Some tests, especially ones that can also read your HDL and LDL, can be expensive. These tests are unlikely to be covered by your insurance company.

“A capillary cholesterol test can help you keep an eye on your cholesterol. You can check your cholesterol without a doctor’s appointment with a single drop of blood. Results are provided in minutes. You will need to mail your blood sample to the lab and get the results in a few days.”

If the tests are done correctly, they are accurate. It is important to follow the instructions on the test.

Most at- home tests only measure cholesterol. You need to get readings of your cholesterol to get a complete picture. You need to visit a doctor and get a more detailed test to fully understand your cholesterol levels and heart health.