Thanks to a new method of calculating "bad cholesterol" levels, fasting may not be required before blood is drawn for such screening, say researchers.
According to the study published in the journal Circulation, the new method was found to be more accurate than an older method in people who did not fast before the cholesterol test.
The new method for calculation of LDL or low-density lipoprotein, has been developed by Seth Martin and other researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US.
"Although the new LDL calculation method is a bit more complex, the beauty is that it can be performed using information that is already collected in the blood sample for the standard lipid profile and automated in the lab's computer system to give a more accurate result," Martin said, IANS reported.
"Since non-fasting samples are now accurate, it's more convenient for patients because they can come in anytime and don't need to return for a second appointment if they have eaten," Martin added.
For the study, the researchers compared the accuracy of the new LDL calculation method with the Friedewald method, in the late 1970s when some patients fasted while others did not.
The Friedewald method was earlier shown by Martin and colleagues to underestimate LDL cholesterol levels, especially in people with high triglycerides.
Triglycerides are fatty acids that are found at elevated levels in people with obesity and diabetes. The levels of the acids increase after eating.
The comparison was done by physicians using data already gathered in a clinical repository.
In their final analysis, the researchers observed that around 30 per cent of the non-fasting participants had greater than 10 milligrams per decilitre inaccurate cholesterol measurements using the Friedewald method as against only 3 per cent error from the actual measured value with the new method.
The new test does not take any longer to provide results to physicians and patients, and the cost is the same to administer.