National Cholesterol Month
October is National Cholesterol Month, raising awareness of the damage that high cholesterol can cause, and ways in which to reduce your risk of long terms and potentially fatal diseases.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can increase your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
There are two main types of cholesterol – on is ‘good’ and one is ‘bad’. Having too much ‘bad’ cholesterol can cause problems, clogging up the arteries carrying blood around your body.
- Over half of all adults in England have raised cholesterol (>5mmol/L)
- Healthy adults should aim for total cholesterol or 5mmol/L or less and ‘bad’ cholesterol of 3mmol/L or less
- Adults at increased risk from a heart attack should aim for a 40% or more reduction in their ‘bad’ cholesterol. Targets will be different for all individuals but as a guide a total cholesterol below 4mmol/L, an ‘bad’ cholesterol below 1.8mmol/L
- In 2013 in England 300 million prescriptions were issued to help treat cardiovascular disease
- Every 7 minutes someone in the UK will have a heart attack
- Every 12 minutes someone in the UK will have a stroke
- Overall cardiovascular disease is estimated to cost the UK economy £19 billion – 46% direct healthcare costs, 34% productivity losses and 20% informal care
What causes high cholesterol?
- Eating a lot of saturated fat
- Not being active enough
- Having too much body fat, especially around your middle
What can I do to lower my cholesterol?
Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in the fight against high cholesterol.
1. Become more active – this doesn’t mean getting yourself to the gym every day. Make an effort to move more, such as going for a walk at lunchtime, or walking the dog for an extra half an hour several times throughout the week.
2. Reduce your saturated fat intake. This includes foods such as:
- Fatty meats
- Palm and coconut oil
3. Replace saturated fat with healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. This is found in foods such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
4. Boost your wholegrain intake through foods such as oats, beans, pulses, lentils, fruit and vegetables.
5. Quit smoking
Extra help with high cholesterol:
It might be that you have an extremely high cholesterol level that is not able to be fully controlled through a healthy diet and regular exercise. This could be because of circumstances out of your control such as, getting older, your ethnic background, or an inherited disease. In these cases, work closely with your GP to find a solution that suits you.