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Cholesterol Testing: Frequent Testing May Be Unnecessary

July 5th, 2013 by Deb Wilson

Blood Test ResultsOne of my pet peeves with previous doctors has been their insistence on cholesterol testing every 3 months to renew a prescription that had not changed in years.  One doctor in particular also required an office visit to review the results of the tests.  Turns out my frustration may have been warranted.

One-third of people with heart disease have their cholesterol levels checked more often than guidelines recommend, a new study of Veterans Affairs (VA) patients suggests.

Researchers said such extra testing may be a waste of time and money if it doesn’t lead to improvements in patients’ health.

The findings are “very unsurprising,” according to Dr. Michael Johansen of The Ohio State University in Columbus, who has studied cholesterol management.

He said doctors may order more tests to meet (or exceed) performance measures, and because they get paid for running a cholesterol panel.

Unnecessary repeat cholesterol tests common: study

Current American Medical Association guidelines recommend testing annually, and are being reviewed to determine if changes should be made.  Obviously, for someone who is just starting on a medication, frequent testing may be valuable to ensure that the appropriate dosage level is being administered to reduce the individual’s cholesterol level.  In addition, someone with another medical issues, such as diabetes, may be a candidate for more frequent testing.  For someone like me with their cholesterol under control for many many years, the testing I endured may have been overkill!


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