Healthy Heart – Cholesterol

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is produced in the body by the liver but is also found in various foods. It plays an important role in the normal functioning of the body, however, too much in the blood may cause it to build up in the blood vessels increasing your risk of serious illness involving the heart or circulatory system including heart attack and stroke.



What causes high cholesterol?

A number of different factors may contribute to someone h


aving high cholesterol levels including:



-Lifestyle – alcohol and smoking

-Diet – high in saturated fat


-Genes – may be inherited affecting approximately 1 in 100 people

Cholesterol testing

Your GP may recommend getting your cholesterol levels tested if you:

-have another condition which may increase cholesterol e.g high blood pressure or diabetes

-have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease (CVD) such as stroke or coronary heart disease

-are overweight

-have a family history of cardiovascular disease or high cholesterol


Even if you don’t fall into the categories above you may wish to test your cholesterol levels – recommended every 5 years for people over 40 years old.


When you get a cholesterol test you will get results for the following:


Total cholesterol – total amount of cholesterol in the blood.

-Ideally should be less than 5mmol/L (healthy adults)/4mmol/L (high risk of CVD)


HDL (good cholesterol) – carries cholesterol to the liver to be broken down

-Ideally should be above 1mmol/L


LDL (bad cholesterol) – carries cholesterol around the body but may build in blood vessels if too high.

-Ideally should be less than 3mmol/L (healthy adults)/2mmol/L (high risk of CVD)


Non-HDL – total cholesterol minus HDL (good cholesterol) to give total level of bad cholesterol

-Ideally less than 4mmol/L (healthy adults)/3mmol/L (high risk of CVD)

How to lower cholesterol levels

you can help lower cholesterol by eating a healthy, balanced diet with low saturated fat and increased fruit and vegetables. Some foods which are high in cholesterol include:

-full cream diary products e.g milk, cheese etc

-fatty meats and processed meats e.g sausages


-cakes and biscuits etc.

Other methods to help lower cholesterol include:


-Lose weight

-Quit smoking

-Reduce alcohol intake

As well as various lifestyle and dietary measures some supplements may help reduce your blood cholesterol levels. The following are available in-store:


-Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar

-Eskimo-3 Omega 3 products

Pharmacological Treatment

If your cholesterol levels are too high your GP may decide to start drug treatment to help reduce your cholesterol. You may also require drug treatment if you are at high risk of CVD or if you have had CVD such as coronary heart disease.


Statins are currently the first-line drug treatment for the majority of people requiring medical intervention. Statins reduce levels by interrupting a vital step in the process of cholesterol production in the liver, therefore reducing the amount of cholesterol circulating in the body.

Main points surrounding statins:

-Once daily dosing.

-Taken at night – this is because more cholesterol is produced during the night.

-Main side effect is muscle toxicity – need to report any unexplained muscle pain or weakness.

Here at McDaid Pharmacy we can now test for your total cholesterol levels instore

For more information on cholesterol contact our pharmacy team now

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