Home testing kits enable individuals to check their cholesterol levels at home. There are various options that provide a quick and easy way to test. Used correctly, they have a good accuracy record.

Cholesterol is a fat-like waxy substance in the body. Although the body needs some cholesterol to make vitamins and function properly, too much can increase health risks.

This article examines why people should measure cholesterol, the home testing process, accuracy, and what the results may mean.

When cholesterol is too high, it can build up or form deposits in the arteries. The deposits may narrow the arteries and increase the risk of a heart attack or stroketwo leading causes of death in the United States.

It is helpful for an individual to know their cholesterol level to keep in control of their health. If their cholesterol level is too high, taking certain lifestyle steps may help get levels to a target range.

According to the American Heart Association, adults over the age of 20 should check their cholesterol about every 4–6 years if they have low-risk factors.

For people at a higher risk of developing heart disease, or those who already have heart disease, a doctor may recommend checking cholesterol levels more often.

Home cholesterol kits involve different options to measure cholesterol levels at home.

The test kits contain the tools and instructions an individual needs to collect their blood sample.

Certain home cholesterol tests may only measure total cholesterol levels. This is the total cholesterol in a person’s blood.

Other home tests measure total cholesterol level, along with the following:

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL): Doctors consider this type the “bad” cholesterol.
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL): This is considered the “good” cholesterol by doctors.
  • Triglycerides: These are fats in the bloodstream that give the body energy. Elevated triglyceride levels can increase a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke.

Read on for measuring triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

How to use

There are two types of home kits: self-collection and laboratory-based. At-home kits can be purchased online.

It is vital for people to follow all directions provided with the test kit to get the most accurate results. Exact directions may vary by manufacturer.

Typically, directions for self-collection cholesterol kits using a meter include the following:

  • poking a finger with the lancet provided to draw a drop of blood
  • placing the blood on a test strip
  • inserting the test strip into the meter provided to measure cholesterol levels

Some tests may not come with an electronic meter. Instead, a color guide provides information on cholesterol levels.

Other tests may involve mailing the blood sample to a lab that performs the test and issues results. With laboratory-based tests, people receive their at-home test kit with all the necessary tools, such as alcohol swabs, collection tubes, and pre-addressed envelopes. Once they collect their blood sample, they can send it to a laboratory, where a healthcare professional performs the test.

The best home cholesterol test for someone may depend on what features they prefer, such as whether they want immediate results. Cost may also play a role in which test kit someone chooses.

Read more about the best at-home cholesterol tests for 2022.

It is important for someone to know their cholesterol levels to make certain lifestyle changes to get to a healthy range. Numbers outside the desired level may mean a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

Additional risk factors, such as smoking and being overweight, also play a role in a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following desired cholesterol levels:

Total cholesterolLess than 200 mg/dL
LDL cholesterolLess than 100 mg/dL
HDL cholesterolGreater or equal to 60 mg/dL
TriglyceridesLess than 150 mg/dL

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), home cholesterol tests have an accuracy level similar to doctors’ tests. But user error can affect the results.

It is essential for people to follow all manufacturer’s directions to get the most accurate results. The accuracy can also vary from brand to brand. When choosing an at-home cholesterol test, people should check it is affiliated with the CDC’s tracking program. This means the test meets the program’s standards for accuracy.

People that have cholesterol levels outside the desired ranges should consider talking to their healthcare professional. Different cholesterol values determine what type of treatment plan is most appropriate.

A doctor can recommend lifestyle changes and medications to help manage and lower high cholesterol.

Recommended lifestyle changes for high cholesterol include:

  • maintaining a moderate weight via a balanced diet and regular exercise
  • avoiding tobacco products and smoking
  • reducing alcohol consumption

Read on for more information about other treatment options for high cholesterol.

Home cholesterol kits make it convenient for a person to check cholesterol at home. Testing kits involve pricking a finger to obtain a small blood sample. Individuals may mail the sample into a lab for testing or place the testing strip and blood sample into a meter at home to get results.

Test kits vary in price and whether they measure total cholesterol only or also HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. For the most accurate results, it is vital for people to follow the directions. It is important for a person to consult a healthcare professional for guidance on the testing frequency, review results, and best treatments.