Do You Know Your #Cholesterol? Be Aware..
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. It is mainly made by the liver but can also be found in some foods.
Cholesterol is carried in your blood by proteins, and when the two combine they are called lipoproteins. There are harmful and protective lipoproteins known as LDL and HDL, or ‘bad’ and ‘good’ cholesterol.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): LDL carries cholesterol from your liver to the cells that need it. If there is too much cholesterol for the cells to use, it can build up in the artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries. For this reason, LDL cholesterol is known as “bad cholesterol”.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL): HDL carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it is either broken down or passed out of the body as a waste product. For this reason, it is referred to as “good cholesterol” and higher levels are better.
The amount of cholesterol in the blood (both LDL and HDL) can be measured with a #blood test. The recommended cholesterol levels in the blood vary between those with a higher or lower risk of developing arterial disease.
Why should i be aware of my cholesterol?
Having a high cholesterol can increase the risk of:
This is because cholesterol builds up in the arteries and can stop the blood reaching to the heart and brain. It also increases the chances of a blood clot developing in your body.
What causes high cholesterol?
There are many factors that can increase your chance of having heart problems or stroke if you have high cholesterol, including the following:
- an unhealthy diet: some foods already contain cholesterol (known as dietary cholesterol) but it is the amount of saturated fat in your diet which is more important
- smoking: a chemical found in cigarettes called acrolein stops HDL transporting fatty deposits to the liver, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- having diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension)
- having a family history of stroke or heart disease
How can i lower my cholesterol?
Regular exercise and a healthy diet can lower your cholesterol, it is important to cut down on fatty foods and instead eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, this will also help with maintaining your cholesterol levels.
Quitting smoking will not only cut down your cholesterol level it will lower your chances of other dangerous diseases and illnesses.
If these methods still don’t lower your cholesterol your GP will normally prescribe you with a cholesterol lowering medication such as Cholestagel which lowers the cholesterol by binding bile acids produced by your liver and carrying the bile acids out of your body with your faeces.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you will at first be advised to make changes to your diet and increase your level of exercise.
After a few months, if your cholesterol level has not dropped, you will usually be advised to take cholesterol-lowering medication.
(Most of the information was found at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cholesterol/pages/introduction.aspx)