Cholesterol is not actually a “bad” thing, it is used by the body to perform various normal functions, including producing hormones and building healthy cells.
A high level of cholesterol in your body however may cause you to develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Eventually, these can make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries, causing various parts of your body including your heart to get insufficient oxygen, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke.
High cholesterol can be inherited, but is often preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and medication can go a long way toward reducing high cholesterol.
The body actually contains several different types of cholesterol, which differ essentially by the way it clumps together with other cholesterol molecules and proteins. Some of these types are actually GOOD for you and a higher level is beneficial. For simplicity in this blog, when we speak of high cholesterol we mean the BAD types.
What are the symptoms?
Unfortunately there are no symptoms to suggest your cholesterol is too high. You must rely on blood tests and the advice of your doctor to know when action needs to be taken. Factors which can increase your risk of having high cholesterol include;
- a family history of heart disease
- poor diet,
- lack of exercise,
- diabetes and
- high blood pressure.
Why is it important to maintain low cholesterol?
Maintaining a low cholesterol level is important to reduce your risk of having a stroke or heart attack or developing angina.
If you have already had one of these, it is especially important so as to prevent further occurrences which can lead to very serious consequences including death.
What about medication?
Many people take regular medication for their cholesterol. These medications work either by stopping your body from making more cholesterol or by stopping your body from absorbing cholesterol. This makes your liver take cholesterol out of your blood stream and reduces the bad forms of cholesterol available in the blood stream to cause damage.
Because there are no symptoms of high cholesterol, it is tempting for people to stop their medicine or not take it as regularly as they should. The results of this could be disastrous.
If you are prescribed medication to reduce your cholesterol, the best thing you can do is to take it regularly. If you have trouble remembering to take your medications, ask our staff about starting a Webster pack. It has been shown that dosage aids such as Webster packs can improve the rate at which you take your medication correctly by up to 20%!
What can I do myself to help my cholesterol?
Many of the risk factors for high cholesterol are preventable. By improving your diet, losing some weight and giving up smoking you can have a significant effect on your cholesterol levels.
All Blooms Chemist offer cholesterol screening (a couple of times a year its actually a free service!) which can help give you an idea what your total cholesterol level is and whether or not you will have to pay the doctor a visit.
For more information on the health effects of cholesterol or how to prevent a cholesterol problem, please see this government website.