Here’s something that you may or may not know: According to the Center for Disease Control, over one-third of people living in America have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. More specifically, this means that there are currently over 68 million Americans who have high blood pressure or are taking drugs to lower their blood pressure and there are over 71 million adults (ages 20 and over) who have bad cholesterol. Of the bad cholesterol findings, only 34 million of those individuals are getting treatment and only 23 million of them actually have their high cholesterol levels under control.

And what happens when the waxy, flat-like substance known as cholesterol is not effectively monitored and begins to build up in our systems? Well, two of the greatest risks are that it puts us at (high) risk for having a heart attack or stroke. This is why it’s vitally important to have your cholesterol checked on an annual basis (and more often than that if it is already high). While it is preferable that you do it at a doctor’s office, there is also a way that you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

How to Test Your Own Cholesterol

When it comes to testing your own cholesterol levels at home, some people do it because it saves on both time and money because sitting in a doctor’s office can require a lot of waiting and it is sometimes followed-up with a pretty hefty medical bill. So, if you’re someone who doesn’t mind pricking your own finger or doesn’t take issue with the sight of your own blood, purchasing a home cholesterol test might be a suitable option for you.

Basically, all that you need to do is purchase a test like CholesTrak Home Cholesterol Test or First Check Home Cholesterol Test (which you can get at your local drugstore or pharmacy). Then you prick your finger, squeeze it gently and put some of the blood on the test strip. Within a matter of just a few minutes, you will know what your cholesterol level readings are.

What the Test Doesn’t Tell You

If all that you want to know about are your good and bad cholesterol levels, then taking a home test can certainly accomplish that for you; however, what you do need to keep in mind is that it doesn’t give you any information on things like your overall cardiovascular health or if you are currently at risk for having a heart attack or stroke. Also, if you have a physician who has put you on a diet or exercise regimen, an at-home test has no way of monitoring your progress.

Oftentimes, when you get your cholesterol tested at a doctor’s office, because s/he is a professional, he or she will know if there are other tests that need to be performed, if medication needs to be prescribed or, in extreme cases, if you need to be immediately admitted into a hospital for further evaluation. So, just as like with at-home diabetes and women’s reproductive tests (like ovulation tests and bacterial vaginitis testing), it is still recommended that you at least call your doctor after taking your at-home cholesterol test to see what else (if anything) needs to be done. A test can be convenient, but when it comes to the state of your health, you don’t need just a “quick reading”. You need results that are thorough. Your life depends on it.