Home cholesterol tests and sampling kits
There are a wide variety of home cholesterol test kits and home sampling kits online, and of varying quality. The home cholesterol test kits measure your cholesterol using a solid-state monitor (a small machine) with colour changes that you view on a chart. With sampling kits, you take a small blood sample at home which you post to a laboratory for testing, and you receive your results later.
We would suggest that it is better to have tests carried out by a trained healthcare professional than to take a test or sample yourself. If you have never taken a blood sample yourself the chances are that your first attempt will be challenging. The blood sample might not be enough, or of a high enough quality, and this could affect your results.
Taking a test or sample at home
If you do choose to take a cholesterol test or sample at home, follow these tips to help you
- Read the instructions carefully. They should encourage you to make sure your hands are clean, and especially from the area you take your sample from.
- Make sure the sampling area is dry – leftover water, moisture or soap can alter the blood sample and could make your results inaccurate.
- Try not to squeeze your finger excessively – this can affect the results.
- Always dispose of sharps (used to puncture the skin) safely. Follow the instructions in the kit.
Key information about cholesterol tests
It is important to remember that most home cholesterol testing kits using a solid statement monitor will only give your total cholesterol and not the full breakdown of your results. Samples that are sent to a laboratory are more likely to give the full breakdown.
This breakdown is important as it could greatly affect the advice you’re given about what action to take.
You can check your results against our suggested healthy ranges.
Always follow up a home sample with a proper blood test taken by a healthcare professional.
We would not advise you to use a home kit for genetic testing
Learn more about the process of genetic testing.
With home kits for genetic testing, you take a sample which you send to a laboratory for testing.
These laboratories will not screen for all the known faulty genes involved in cholesterol conditions, but will instead focus on the most common genes. This means that your results could suggest that you don't have a genetic cause of high cholesterol, but as there are at least 500 faulty genes associated with raised cholesterol, you may have a problem that is not detected.
Searching for these faulty genes is only available in laboratories with expertise in detecting and interpreting these genes. Such services are not available with the current home testing kits.
Home kits also miss out a vital part of genetic testing, which is the genetic counselling process. Counselling ensures that you fully understand the condition, what can and cannot be found by using a genetic test, the implications for your health and welfare, and the potential effects on your family found as a result of the test.