October is National Cholesterol Month

Oct 2022

October is National Cholesterol Month! Cholesterol is a fatty substance needed in your body’s cells. However, too much Cholesterol in your blood can lead to a build-up in your arteries, which in turn, increases your risk of having a heart attack.

What is High Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood; it is a waxy-fat-like substance that the liver produces naturally. Cholesterol is vital for the formation of cell membranes, certain hormones, as well as Vitamin D.

Why is High Cholesterol bad for you?

Everyone has Cholesterol, and it is needed to stay healthy, however, too much cholesterol in your blood can lead to a build-up in your arteries making blood harder to flow through. In turn, this can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as a heart attack or stroke.

What causes High Cholesterol?

Anyone can get High Cholesterol and it can be caused by multiple different factors. Some things we can control for example lifestyle habits, others we can’t. However, taking care of the things you can control can lower your risk of heart and circulatory disease.

Things you can control:

  • Eating too many foods that are high in saturated or trans fats like those found in fast foods
  • Not exercising enough
  • Smoking
  • Drinking Alcohol
  • Being overweight

Things you can’t control:

  • Have a family history of High Cholesterol
  • Ethnic Background
  • Getting Older

What are the signs or symptoms of High Cholesterol?

In most cases, High Cholesterol is a ‘Silent’ condition, this is because typically High Cholesterol doesn’t cause any symptoms. In many cases, it happens without us knowing until it’s too late, for instance, when a heart attack or stroke has occurred due to high cholesterol levels.

A Blood test is the only way to know if your Cholesterol is too high. Your GP or practice nurse will take a blood sample, usually by pricking your finger or you might be asked to go for a blood test at your local hospital.

What does having High Cholesterol mean for my health?

Those with High Cholesterol are more at risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as a stroke, heart attack, or vascular dementia.

How can Cholesterol be lowered?

It is possible to lower your Cholesterol, which will reduce the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. Ways to reduce Cholesterol include:

  • Changing what you eat – eating less saturated fats can help to reduce Cholesterol Levels. Swapping foods that are high in saturated fats for foods that contain unsaturated fats such as Olive oil and Sunflower Oil can also help.
  • Reducing how much alcohol you drink – cutting down on alcohol can help you to lower your cholesterol levels. There are also other benefits to cutting back, you may notice that you feel more energetic, your mood improves and you sleep better!
  • Being more active – Increasing the amount you move your body strengthens your heart and reduces bad cholesterol. Small changes such as taking the stairs instead of the lift can also make a difference.
  • Stopping smoking – this is one of the best things you can do for your Cholesterol and your heart, speak to your GP about how to stop smoking as soon as you can, not smoking will help you avoid heart disease.
  • Medication: Some people may be prescribed medication to lower cholesterol levels, make sure you take these as instructed.

Questions to ask your doctor:

Am I at risk for heart disease?

How often should I get my cholesterol tested?

What are my cholesterol levels? Are they high?

What lifestyle changes do I need to make to help improve my cholesterol levels and heart health?

Do I need cholesterol medicine?

What are the side effects of the medicine?

Help and Support

For those between the age of 40-74, you can ask for an NHS health check, in England only, but other schemes are available in other parts of the UK. If you are concerned about your Cholesterol, contact your GP, there are also different charities that can offer help and support:

British Heart Foundation

Heart UK

To see our range of Cholesterol products click here