Background: Although current guidelines recommend measuring lipid levels in a fasting state, recent studies suggest that nonfasting lipid profiles change minimally in response to food intake and may be superior to fasting levels in predicting adverse cardiovascular outcomes. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between fasting times and lipid levels.
Methods: Cross-sectional examination of laboratory data, including fasting duration (in hours) and lipid results, was performed over a 6-month period in 2011 in a large community-based cohort. Data were obtained from Calgary Laboratory Services, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the sole supplier of laboratory services for Calgary and surrounding areas (source population, 1.4 million persons). The main outcome measures were mean levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides for fasting intervals from 1 hour to more than 16 hours. After differences in individual ages were controlled for, linear regression models were used to estimate the mean levels of cholesterol subclasses at different fasting times.
Results: A total of 209,180 individuals (111,048 females and 98,132 males) were included in the study. The mean levels of total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol differed little among individuals with various fasting times. The mean calculated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels showed slightly greater variations of up to 10% among groups of patients with different fasting intervals, and the mean triglyceride levels showed variations of up to 20%.
Conclusion: Fasting times showed little association with lipid subclass levels in a community-based population, which suggests that fasting for routine lipid levels is largely unnecessary.