Established cholesterol testing practice calls for patients to fast before providing blood samples. But is this really necessary to assess lipid levels accurately? The International Lipoprotein Standardization Forum at AACC’s Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo will shed light on this question, with insights from Christopher Naugler, MSc, MD, CCEP, FCFP, FRCPC, who has conducted extensive population-level studies on the association between fasting and lipid levels.

Naugler is zone clinical section chief for general pathology with Calgary Laboratory Services and an associate professor with the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Naugler utilizes large data sets in his research evaluating laboratory testing practices. “My research group investigates ways to use secondary lab data to address questions in lab test utilization and utility,” he told CLN Stat.

At the July 28 forum, co-sponsored by AACC’s Lipoproteins and Vascular Diseases and Informatics Divisions, Naugler will highlight his work involving a cross-sectional examination of laboratory data over a large community-based cohort to look at the association between fasting and lipid levels.

The available data he had on fasting times for a large cohort of patients presented Naugler and his research group with a unique opportunity to examine this association. To date, his research team has determined that fasting time has little effect (in the range of 2%) on total cholesterol and on HDL cholesterol, the measurements used in cardiovascular disease risk assessment.

The bottom line is it does not seem to matter if patients fast. However, a number of steps would need to take place to change the United States’ established practice of fasting before cholesterol tests, according to Naugler.

“The first is the inclusion of non-fasting recommendations in clinical practice guidelines. [The Canadian province of] Alberta has already done this—the clinical practice guideline recommendation here is for all lipids to be tested in a nonfasting state,” Naugler explained. He added that labs in the U.S. also need to accept non-fasting lipid collections, as many in Canada now do.

Non-fasting collections have a number of significant benefits for patients in terms of compliance, convenience, and safety—such as diabetics avoiding the risk of hypoglycemia, Naugler said. For labs, the advantage of using non-fasting tests is reducing the number of patients who come for fasting tests early in the morning.

Register online to attend this special session and learn more about Naugler’s research and changing perspectives about fasting and non-fasting cholesterol tests.

“International Lipoprotein Standardization Forum, Fasting Time and Lipid Levels in a Community Based Population: A Cross sectional Study,” will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel. Registration is limited to the first 80 Lipoproteins and Vascular Diseases and Informatics Divisions members.