What you can expect

During the procedure

A cholesterol test is a blood test, usually done in the morning since you'll need to fast for the most accurate results. Blood is drawn from a vein, usually from your arm. Before the needle is inserted, the puncture site is cleaned with antiseptic and an elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. This causes the veins in your arm to fill with blood.

After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood is collected into a vial or syringe. The band is then removed to restore circulation, and blood continues to flow into the vial. Once enough blood is collected, the needle is removed and the puncture site is covered with a bandage.

The entire procedure will likely last a couple of minutes. It's relatively painless.

What you can expect

There are no special precautions you need to take after your cholesterol test. You should be able to drive yourself home and do all your normal activities. You may want to bring a snack to eat after your cholesterol test is done, if you've been fasting.

Jan. 12, 2016
  1. Cholesterol. Lab Tests Online. American Association for Clinical Chemistry. https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/cholesterol. Accessed Dec. 4, 2015.
  2. How to get your cholesterol tested. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/SymptomsDiagnosisMonitoringofHighCholesterol/How-To-Get-Your-Cholesterol-Tested_UCM_305595_Article.jsp#.VmHC-NiFOic. Accessed Dec. 4, 2015.
  3. What is cholesterol? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc#. Accessed Dec. 4, 2015.
  4. Vijan S. Screening for lipid disorders. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 4, 2015.
  5. Good vs. bad cholesterol. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/Good-vs-Bad-Cholesterol_UCM_305561_Article.jsp#.VmHlVNiFOic. Accessed Dec. 4, 2015.
  6. LDL and HDL: "Bad" and "good" cholesterol. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl.htm. Accessed Dec. 4, 2015.
  7. AskMayoExpert. Hyperlipidemia: Screening for coronary artery disease (adult). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
  8. Wilson PW. Overview of the risk equivalents and established risk factors for cardiovascular disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
  9. Lipids and lipoproteins In: Expert panel on integrated guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents. Bethesda (MD): National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; 2011. p. 184-281.