Do I need to have my cholesterol checked?

Do I need to have my cholesterol checked?

For most OSU students, the short answer is NO.  

The good news is that if you are younger than age 35 (for men) or younger than 45 (for women) you would only need to have your cholesterol checked if you have risk factors for heart disease.  If you don’t have risk factors, the likelihood that you have high cholesterol is VERY LOW.  The bad news is, because of that low risk, if you decide you just want to know what your cholesterol is, most insurances won’t cover the cost of the test (because they don’t see any reason you need to have it done).

So what are the risk factors that mean you should have your cholesterol checked, and make it likely that your insurance would pay for it?  These are based on research done by several groups, including the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force).  The specific risk factors are:

  1. Obesity/ high BMI (body mass index)
  2. A family history of the following conditions (in your biological brother, sister, mother, or father):
  • Sudden Cardiac Death
  • Cardiovascular Disease (like a heart attack)
  • Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol)

If you decide to have your cholesterol checked even though your insurance does not cover it, your least expensive option would be to have it checked at a Health Fair (sometimes done for free), or to come to the Student Health Center and go to the Registration Desk (first floor) and ask to have it done as an OIY (“Order It Yourself”) test.  You have to pay for it up front, but it only costs $20 and you get a printout from the lab within 15-30 minutes with the results and an explanation of the results.  If you have it done as part of an office visit with one of our providers, you’ll get billed for the lab test (usually at a higher rate) and the office visit, so it’ll be a lot more expensive.

If you have any questions about your risk factors for heart disease and whether or not you need to have your cholesterol checked, you can always make an appointment with us to discuss them – we’re here to help!

Mary Jane Elam, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University