Do Home Cholesterol Testers Really Work?

Do Home Cholesterol Testers Really Work?

While the value of home blood sugar testers for diabetics has long been established, the value of a home cholesterol testing kit is less well-established. Many people like the convenience of using a cholesterol tester at home. Without accuracy, however, their value may be limited.

Here’s the problem: most affordable cholesterol tester you can use at home test whole cholesterol levels. This means that your cholesterol number combines your HDL, your LDL, and your triglyceride levels all into a single number. This makes it of limited value. A home cholesterol test of this sort can tell you when your cholesterol seems high, but cannot be relied upon as a clear indication that you have a problem with cholesterol. Instead, it should be used as a benchmark to tell you when to go to the doctor.

A good example of this sort of cholesterol tester is the Lifestream cholesterol test. These tests are stable and not too hard to use. (If you do buy Lifestream, however, be sure you get very new machines and test strips; there have been compatibility and expiration issues from buyers.) The results they return are whole cholesterol, but the measurement is relatively accurate and will at least give you an idea of how high your overall cholesterol level is.

The Mayo Clinic recommends against using home cholesterol tester kits because they are not perfectly accurate and, if they give you incorrect low levels, may make you too complacent about watching your diet and exercise goals closely. Still, provided you are aware of the limitations of these cholesterol testers, there are certainly some good reasons to order and use them. For instance, one purchaser used them to test his whole family in order to persuade them to change dietary habits.

The more expensive cholesterol testers like CardioChek do differentiate between the three types of cholesterol, making them much more valuable to the consumer. Instead of the whole cholesterol test the cheaper cholesterol testing kits return, CardioChek returns your whole cholesterol number as well as separate numbers for your HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. This means that you have a good idea for where your different cholesterol levels are, making it easier for you to decide intelligently whether you should go to the doctor for a more extensive cholesterol check.

The problem? CardioChek tests cost about $100 each. There are situations in which you do want to be able to test at home, but it is unlikely that you will save money on these cholesterol test kits over a doctor’s visit.

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