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Sep 5, 2019

To Fast or Not to Fast

We all know by now that doctors recommend an annual checkup. It involves making time to see the doctor, answer questions, and a series of tests. To test your cholesterol, a blood sample is taken after fasting. But can there be a more comfortable way than going to bed and waking up hungry? That’s what we found out in tonight’s Healthy Living.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

A poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, and family history, these are all some of the common causes for high cholesterol. It’s a common health issue, and if left undetected, it can have devastating consequences – like heart attacks or strokes. Getting your cholesterol checked is one way to know your health status. As Internist Dr. Fernando Cuellar explains, everyone should get checked regularly.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist/Intensivist, Belize Medical Associates

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“There’s not an age limit, teenagers, early later mid-twenties thirty forties there is no exception who should get at least a yearly check. Of course, if you have a family history of what is called dyslipidemias which is the fancy world or high triglycerides. It’s all lumped Ito that word. Then you would want to check more often two to three times a year. What happens in these two main cardiovascular conditions is that the lining the blood vessels they actually forming these plaques that narrow the arteries. And these plaques are usually cholesterol-based over time instead o your artery being a certain diameter, a certain risk, it starts closing. So it reduces blood flow and hence the reason people get affected by strokes and heart attacks, so you have to know your cholesterol numbers.”


Knowing your numbers is the only way to know for sure if you have cholesterol problems.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“We say high cholesterol and triglycerides but this whole thing should be called a lipid profile because then we do the breakdown into the good and the bad cholesterol. The HDL which is the good one. I like to tell people to remember the H for the happy and the LDL – cause talking about low-density lipoproteins comes a bit difficult for people – so just remember the H for happy and the L for lousy. So its easier and the play a role the L the low density is the harmful one and the HDL the happy one is actually a protective one. So you would want your HDL to be high and your LDL to be low and your triglycerides normal.”


The lipid profile or cholesterol test is done through a blood test. Traditionally it has always been recommended that the test be done after an eight to 12 hour fast – no food or drink except for water. But the latest research indicates that the fasting pre-requisite may no longer be necessary.

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“There have been many tests; many reviews and researches are saying it doesn’t make a difference. Ok, it doesn’t make a difference you can tell someone to come in and check their cholesterol in the afternoon or the evening if convenience permitting. We can do your cholesterol your triglycerides check at any time, as a matter of fact, people who go to the emergency room for chest pains or signs related to a stroke, they do the cholesterol test, and triglycerides check then and their noh.”


The recent studies have shown that the differences between fasting and non-fasting results for cholesterol are usually negligible. In fact, in the United States, fasting before a cholesterol test is preferred but not mandatory, and in Europe, fasting is no longer required. Dr. Cuellar notes that changes in medical protocols do happen with continuous research, as was the case with testing for cholesterol problems earlier.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“We use to see the typical person with high cholesterol or risk to having high cholesterol in their 40′s and 50′s and 60′s, but I have no limit to asking a teenager a younger person to have a yearly check done. Bothe from experience and for the literature, we know that we need to be checking more frequently.”


It will even help some more vulnerable groups in getting their regular checks.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“The elderly seemed to have, we have a challenge with them because the elderly 65 and over, the 70′s the 80′s it’s a challenge for them to have these longer fasting. Diabetes in particular people who it’s hard for them to be fasting that long without running the risk of the sugar dropping too low and that kind of thing.”


So since you don’t have to skip breakfast, do remember to get your cholesterol checked at least once a year. Dr. Cuellar notes that fasting is still required for other tests you may need to take.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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