What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is carried around the body in the blood. The body produces most cholesterol naturally, and it is found in some foods.

How is it measured?

Cholesterol is measured by a simple blood test. You will need a referral from your GP to have your cholesterol tested.

What is LDL/HDL? Lipoproteins carry cholesterol in the blood. The two main types that carry cholesterol to and from cells are called low density lipoproteins (LDL-C) and high density lipoproteins (HDL-C). The lower the density of the lipoproteins the more fats it contains. High density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol) is called the ‘good cholesterol’ because it helps to keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries. Low density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) is called the ‘bad cholesterol’ because it is the main source of cholesterol build-up and blockage in the arteries. Statin medication works to reduce this LDL-C.

How high is too high?

Generally, the lower your LDL cholesterol, and the higher your HDL cholesterol, the better. This is especially true for people with Coronary Heart Disease or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Talk to your GP about what your blood fat levels should be and they will take into consideration any other risk factors such as smoking/diabetes/blood pressure/body weight and overall health.

What causes high cholesterol?

High cholesterol is mainly caused by eating foods high in saturated and trans fats.

Foods high in saturated fats and trans fats include fatty meats, full fat dairy products, butter, coconut oil and palm oil, and most deep fried take-away food plus commercially baked products, such as pies, biscuits, buns and pastries.

What is wrong with high cholesterol?

High cholesterol causes fatty deposits to gradually build up in blood vessels, making it harder for blood to flow through. This can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol is also a major risk factor for Coronary Heart Disease.

How can I reduce my cholesterol?

Lifestyle changes including quitting smoking, increasing exercise and enjoying healthy eating can help in reducing cholesterol. Speak to your GP for advice. At Pro Health Care we also have dietitians available to give you advice on healthy eating.

Pro Medical SA

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