In this study, researchers showed an evidence with a new method of calculating so-called "bad cholesterol" levels in the blood is more accurate than the older method in people who did not fast before blood was drawn. Researchers suggest that routine fasting for testing cholesterol levels were eliminated for most of the people and making such screening more convenient. This study was published in Circulation.

Researchers compared this study with the accuracy of the new LDL calculation method with the Friedewald method, developed in the late 1970s when patients fasted or did not fast. Martin said, "Although the new LDL calculation method is a bit more complex, the beauty is that it can be performed using information that is already collected in the blood sample for the standard lipid profile and automated in the lab's computer system to give a more accurate result."

With the same information required for calculation as the Friedewald method, the newer method uses a chart developed by Johns Hopkins physicians with 180 different factors to more accurately calculate LDL cholesterol and individualize a person's assessment. The team focused on LDL levels in people with less than 70 milligrams per deciliter, because under professional guidelines, those with LDL levels over that number are considered at elevated risk for cardiovascular events, and in need of lifestyle changes and drug treatment.

Approximately 30 % of the nonfasting participants had greater than 10 milligrams per deciliter inaccurate cholesterol measurements using the Friedewald method compared with only 3 percent error from the actual measured value with the new method. Although the new method of calculating cholesterol doesn't suffer from too much error from not fasting, the researchers say that fasting may still be important for certain patients.

Those with high-risk of cardiovascular disease whose treatment might change based on a small inaccuracy in the LDL cholesterol calculation, those with a triglyceride disorder or those who need to fast for other types of tests such as blood sugar. Vasanth Sathiyakumar said, "Some patients can have sizable changes in triglycerides after eating, and that is what makes the older Friedewald method less accurate for these people because this isn't considered and it exaggerates the underestimation problem of LDL levels."

As this study looked at data from a clinical laboratory database, the physicians couldn't consider detailed clinical characteristics such as whether patients were on cholesterol-lowering statins and how that affected the fasting/nonfasting results. Author concludes that clinicians and patients can make better decisions because they are armed with more precise test results when using our cholesterol calculation method without fasting. Clinicians who are still using the Friedewald method must exercise more caution in interpreting the results.