What is high cholesterol?

It’s a word we hear about all the time, but do you actually know what it is and why it’s important?

We have all the cholesterol facts for you.

  • High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood.
  • It’s mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. It can also run in families.
  • You can lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise. Some people also need to take medicine.
  • Too much cholesterol can block your blood vessels. It makes you more likely to have heart problems or a stroke.

How do I know if I have high cholesterol?

High cholesterol does not cause symptoms so it’s difficult to actually know if you have it. The only way to find out is by having a blood test.

Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high.

There are 2 ways of having a cholesterol test:

  • Taking blood from your arm
  • Finger prick test

How can I lower my cholesterol?

  • Eat less fatty food
  • Try to eat more:
    • Oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
    • Brown rice, bread and pasta
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Fruits and vegetables
  • Try to eat less:
    • Meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
    • Butter, lard and ghee
    • Cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
    • Cakes and biscuits
    • Food that contains coconut oil or palm oil
  • Exercise more:
    • Aim to do at least 150 (2.5 hours) of exercise a week
  • Stop smoking
  • Cut down on alcohol

Medicine to lower your cholesterol

You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol if:

  • Your cholesterol level has not gone down after changing your diet and lifestyle
  • You’re at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke

Statins are the most common medicine for high cholesterol, as they reduce the amount of cholesterol your body makes.

Have you talked to your GP about your cholesterol? 

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