How useful is nonfasting cholesterol testing?

Other than convenience and compliance, is there any benefit to nonfasting cholesterol testing? As I understand it, triglyceride values are very sensitive to fasting, but total cholesterol remains fairly stable. Can you comment on this?
—Lynn Smith, FNP, Tampa

It depends on what are you screening for. The National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel II guidelines allow nonfasting cholesterol testing for screening only. There was a very high correlation between fasting and nonfasting HDL levels (and even total cholesterol levels). However, if your testing is intended to monitor drug therapy or persons with known conditions requiring definitive lipid reduction (e.g., diabetes or known coronary artery disease and lower LDL levels), the test is most accurate when the patient is fasting.
—Sherril Sego, MSN, FNP (120-1)

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