High cholesterol: What you need to know High cholesterol: What you need to know

As you’re reading this, you might have high cholesterol without even realising it. High cholesterol often presents with no noticeable symptoms and silently puts people at risk of developing serious health problems.

What is High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol means that you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. You do need a certain amount of cholesterol for your cells to function properly, but having too much of it can cause a whole range of health complications like heart attack and stroke. Catching high cholesterol early and treating it key to preventing these complications from occurring.

Cholesterol comes from two sources: your own body and in the food you eat. Your liver produces all the cholesterol you need for healthy cell function and to produce hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest food.

When you consume too much cholesterol through your diet, you put yourself at risk of developing high cholesterol. Excess amounts of cholesterol can combine with other substances in your blood to create plaque which clogs the walls of your arteries. Narrow, blocked, or clogged arteries is what leads to stroke and heart attack.

Types of Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol, commonly referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ and ‘bad cholesterol.’ Bad cholesterol, also known as Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, is what contributes to plaque and fatty builds up in the arteries. The more LDL you have, the higher your risk for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease (PAD). 

High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) is the good type of cholesterol because it’s the type you need for health cell function. It may even help reduce your chance of having a heart attack or stroke. HDL is responsible for carrying LDL cholesterol out of the arteries to the liver where it is then broken down and passed out of the body. 

Causes of High Cholesterol

Anyone is susceptible to developing high cholesterol, but certain habits and lifestyle factors can make you more likely to get it. There are also factors at play that may be out of your control. 

Lifestyle choices that can cause high cholesterol include:

  • Eating too much saturated fat. Saturated fat impacts how well your liver can remove cholesterol from your body.
  • Smoking cigarettes. Smoking causes tar to build up in the arteries which makes it easier for cholesterol to stick the artery walls.
  • Lack of physical activity. The more active you are, the higher your levels of good cholesterol will be. Your bad cholesterol levels are also reduced by physical activity.

Genetic factors can also be responsible for high cholesterol, like:

  • Your age. High cholesterol is more common in older adults.
  • Your ethic background. South Asians have higher rates of high cholesterol.
  • Your gender. Men are more likely to have high cholesterol.
  • Your family history. If high cholesterol runs in your family, you’re at a higher risk of getting it, too.

Certain medical conditions and treatments have also been found to be linked to high cholesterol. People with kidney and liver disease are unable to process and remove cholesterol properly, raising the overall levels of cholesterol in the blood. Type 2 diabetics are another group at risk as are those with hormonal or thyroid disorders

Prevention of High Cholesterol

Like many other health conditions, eating a balanced diet and staying active can help prevent high cholesterol. Since many cases are the result of poor diet and exercise choices, it’s important to watch what you eat and to get moving as much you can. 

Your diet should be low on saturated fats, trans fats, and other sources high in dietary cholesterol. Foods high in cholesterol include:

  • Baked goods
  • Sausages
  • Fatty meats
  • Dairy
  • Palm oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Sugary drinks

Instead, you should eat things like:

  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruit and veg
  • Oily fish
  • Brown rice

We know sticking to an exercise routine can be hard, but even losing 5% of your total body weight can make a significant difference. Find an activity you enjoy that is suitable for your fitness levels, like walking, swimming, dancing, and yoga. 

Also vital to preventing high cholesterol is knowing your levels. You should start getting regular cholesterol tests once you turn 40 so you can catch high cholesterol before it becomes too severe. The sooner you treat it, the better your health will be in the long-term. Since high cholesterol rarely has symptoms, getting tested is often the only way to know if you have it. 

Cholesterol levels are checked with a type of blood test known as a lipid profile or a lipid panel. It measures your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and a type of fat in the blood called triglycerides. 

Treatment of High Cholesterol

In addition to taking steps to prevent high cholesterol, there are medical treatments available that can help lower your levels. For these medications to be fully effective, you will need to enact a healthy lifestyle as part of your treatment. 

Which medications you’re prescribed will depend on your medical history and how severe your high blood pressure is. One of the most main treatments for high cholesterol medications are a group of medicines known as statins. 

Statins block a substance your liver needs to produce cholesterol and helps your liver remove any cholesterol that’s present. Common statins include Atorvastatin and Pravastatin

Another form of high cholesterol drugs are fibrates like Gemfibrozil/Lopid. These reduce the amount of very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and speed up the removal of triglycerides from your blood. 

In addition to being able to buy statins and fibrates for cholesterol from us, we also have Cholestagel. Cholestagel tablets lower the cholesterol levels in adults with high cholesterol and is often prescribed to people who can’t take statins. 

We stock a wide range of effective high cholesterol drugs like Atorvastatin, Gemfibrozil/Lopid, and Cholestagel. Make taking care of your cholesterol simple by having your medications shipped right to your doorstep from Pharmacy Planet.