What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in your body, and is essential for your cells to work properly. However, having too much cholesterol in your blood increases your risk of heart disease.
The 'Bad' and the 'Good'
There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein, known as LDL ( or 'Bad') and high-density lipoprotein known as HDL ( or 'Good')
- The job of LDL cholesterol is to take cholesterol from the liver to the body tissues and cells. If there is too much of this cholesterol in the blood, it can build up in the walls of the blood vessels and cause them to narrow. This is why LDL cholesterol is sometimes called 'Bad' cholesterol. To maintain a healthy heart. people should try to keep their 'Bad' LDL cholesterol at a lower, healthy level.
- The job of HDL cholesterol is to return the extra cholesterol, that isn't needed, from the bloodstream to the liver. HDL is a 'Good' type of cholesterol because it removes the Bad
cholesterol from the bloodstream, rather than depositing it in the arteries.
Know your cholesterol levels
Finding out your LDL and HDL cholesterol levels is the first step. Your totalhealth pharmacist can perform a simple blood cholesterol test, so ask for both your LDL and HDL levels. The cholesterol levels will be reported as, for example, 3mmol/l or 3 millimols of cholesterol per litre of blood. For simplicity. we will just quote the cholesterol level figures.
What is most important to know 1s that you need to keep your LDL cholesterol low and your HDL cholesterol high.
Triglycerides are another fat found in your blood. High levels of triglycerides in your blood can increase your risk of stroke or heart disease.
What are healthy cholesterol levels?
People who are at high risk or who already have heart and circulatory disease should aim for:
Cholesterol and heart disease
Heart disease may occur when levels of 'Bad' LDL cholesterol are too high and the coronary arteries become narrowed by the gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls. In time. the arteries may become so narrow that they cannot deliver enough oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle.
There are several types of cholesterol-lowering medication which work in different ways. Prescription medicines include Statins and Ezetimibe. Statins are the most commonly prescribed medications; they block the enzyme in the liver that is needed to make cholesterol, and your doctor may decide that medication is the way forward for you.
Grapefruit Consumption and Statins
Grapefruit or grapefruit juice may reduce the effectiveness of statins. so if you are using these medications. avoid consuming grapefruit products.
Your totalhealth pharmacist can advise if you are not sure.
Causes of high cholesterol
Eating too much saturated fat is a common cause of high cholesterol. However, some people have high cholesterol even though they eat healthily. Some have high cholesterol as a result
of an underactive thyroid gland. long term kidney problems. or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Small changes in diet and lifestyle are often all it takes to keep your cholesterol levels healthy, or to lower them if they're too high.
All totalhealth pharmacies offer an in-store Cholesterol tesing service by appointment. The test only takes a few seconds. Be sure to have your Cholesterol tested regularly for peace of mind. Ask in-store for more details.
|Every||5 Years||2 Years||6 months|
If you are on medication, you will require both cholesterol and liver screening every 6 months. If you have a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol. you should consult your GP or totalhealth professional for advice.
To reduce your risks of heart disease:
Stick to a healthy diet
Eat fresh fruit, vegetables, oily fish, lean meat, skinless poultry, fibre-rich food, low fat dairy products.
When cooking, avoid frying; grill, bake, boil or steam your food.
Hydrogenated fat/oil contains trans fats, which raise your 'Bad' LDL and lower your 'Good' HDL cholesterol levels. Trans fats are found in biscuits, pastries, processed and deep-fried foods - always study the nutritional information labels on food products.
Exercise helps lower cholesterol, so take at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times per week. Relaxation techniques may also help.
Adopt a healthier lifestyle
Consider food supplements containing:
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