Over half of adults in the UK have high blood cholesterol. This can cause dangerous problems for your heart health, and increases your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
That’s why we’re calling on people to get their cholesterol checked as part of a heart health check during National Cholesterol Month, starting today. This is particularly important for people age 40 and over or for those with a family history of high cholesterol.
Many people don’t know that their cholesterol is too high in the first place, leaving the condition untreated.
Dr Mike Knapton, our Associate Medical Director, said: “High cholesterol rarely has symptoms, which can make it hard to detect without a blood test. But if left untreated, high cholesterol levels will raise your risk of cardiovascular disease.
“National Cholesterol Month is a great opportunity to have a conversation with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about your cholesterol and to get tested. If your cholesterol is too high, it’s very important to bring your levels down by looking at making healthy changes to your lifestyle. So take control and help your heart stay healthy.“
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood and in the right amounts is essential for our cells to work. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. When cholesterol and proteins are combined, they are called lipoproteins.
How do you know if your cholesterol is too high?
You can find out your cholesterol level by having a simple blood test at your GP surgery as part of a regular check up. You should be looking to make sure that there is the right balance of good cholesterol (High density lipoprotein) and not too much bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein).
Too much bad cholesterol in your blood can cause fatty material to build up in your artery walls. The risk is particularly high if you have a high level of bad cholesterol and a low level of good cholesterol.
If your cholesterol is too high, the good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce it, such as by making changes to your diet, like Dave did, or by increasing your physical activity. If you are at risk of developing CVD, you may also be prescribed statins to lower your cholesterol.
What we’re doing to tackle high cholesterol
Over the past 50 years, research we’ve funded has helped understand how cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and contributed to the development of treatments such as statins that are helping to save lives.
Over the past three decades, we have also funded research into the detection and treatment of Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH), a major cause of high cholesterol that can be passed through families and can cause heart attacks early in life.