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Welcome to the Health Defence Blog - a blog about health, wellness and a healthier you. Brought to you by the Health Defence team at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, you'll find up-to-date information on a range of topics from what's in your food to the latest advice on e-cigarettes!
Guest blogger: Laura Hastings, CHSS Lead Advice Line Nurse
January 26, 2018
More than half of adults in Scotland have high cholesterol, which increases the risk of developing serious health conditions including heart disease and stroke.
This is because cholesterol build-up narrows your arteries, reducing blood flow to your heart and brain, and increasing the risk of a blood clot developing. Yet you will usually not know if you have high cholesterol unless you have a simple blood test for your GP or practice nurse.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance found in all of your body’s cells. It is needed to help make hormones and vitamin D, as well as in the process of digestion. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need. However, some foods also contain additional cholesterol.
There are two types of cholesterol:
LDL (low-density lipoprotein): builds up fatty patches in the artery walls (called atheroma), causing hardening or “furring up” of the arteries (like limescale furring up a water pipe). This is the “bad” cholesterol which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein): carries cholesterol away from your cells and back to your liver to be processed and excreted. This is the “good” cholesterol so higher levels of this are beneficial.
In the diagram below, you can see how the build-up of atheroma narrows the blood vessels and reduces the flow of blood. Sometimes a blood clot forms at a patch of atheroma and the blood vessel becomes completely blocked. Depending on the blood vessel involved, this can cause a heart attack or stroke.
High cholesterol levels increase your risk of atheroma forming in your blood vessels
What can cause high cholesterol?
What should my cholesterol levels be?
LDL (“bad”) cholesterol:
HDL (“good”) cholesterol:
How do I help keep my cholesterol at a healthy level?
If despite your best efforts your cholesterol remains high, your GP may prescribe a statin (a cholesterol-lowering medication) to help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
To find out more about cholesterol, read the CHSS ‘Cholesterol’ factsheet, or contact the CHSS Advice Line nurses on: Freephone 0808 801 0899, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.