First ever over-the-counter cholesterol test goes on sale in supermarkets around Britain as Tesco stock the kit

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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The first over-the-counter rapid test for high cholesterol has gone on sale in Tesco.

Users simply have to use a drop of blood taken from the finger, and the kit, which looks similar to the rapid Covid home tests, gives a result in under three minutes.

Someone in the UK suffers a heart attack every five minutes, and high cholesterol is a major risk factor.

However raised cholesterol is typically symptomless, meaning a test is the only to find out if it’s a problem.

For this reason the NHS offers everyone between 40 and 74 a free health check at their GP surgery, including a cholesterol test, every three years. If raised levels are found, patients may be offered statins or other medication to lower levels.

Statins can slash the risk of a heart attack by up to 50 per cent, and also reduce the risk of a potentially fatal stroke.

Users simply have to use a drop of blood taken from the finger, and the kit, which looks similar to the rapid Covid home tests, gives a result in under three minutes (Stock Image)

But just four in ten adults attend the health checks – part of the reason that up to 54 per cent of Britons have undiagnosed high cholesterol, according to research.

Experts have welcomed the new kit, saying it offers a convenient solution to time-pressed people who are too busy to go to the GP for a test ‘just in case’.

Nurse Amanda Sparkes, medical director of private health firm Inicio which helped advise the test’s developer, Newfoundland, said: ‘People in their 40s are working, looking after kids and possibly elderly parents too. Taking time out for a check-up when they’re not feeling unwell is a big ask. That’s why a test you can pick up while shopping and do at home is a great idea.

‘We see a similar reaction to home smear tests – eight in ten women say they’d sooner do the test themselves with a home kit.’

The NHS offers everyone between 40 and 74 a free health check at their GP surgery, including a cholesterol test, every three years (Stock Image)

The NHS offers everyone between 40 and 74 a free health check at their GP surgery, including a cholesterol test, every three years (Stock Image)

Ms Sparkes added that people got used to home testing during the Covid pandemic, saying: ‘It’s just a natural continuation of that.’

The £12.99 test categorises results into three medical risk groups: high, borderline and desirable cholesterol. Studies suggest it is 94 per cent accurate. Those with raised results are encouraged to visit their GP for further checks.

One of the first to undergo the test was James Richardson, a graphic designer. The married father-of-two from Peterborough is slim – at 5ft 11in he has a 32 in waist – and eats healthily, yet the test flagged up raised cholesterol.

‘I did it out of curiosity, so I was surprised at the result. My GP confirmed it and I’ve been put on statins and advised to exercise more regularly,’ he said. ‘Both my parents had heart attacks in their 60s, so I hope that I’ll now avoid the same problems.’

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