High Cholesterol – what does it mean?

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High CholesterolAccording to Heart UK, over half of all UK adults have raised cholesterol. - but what does this actually mean? We’ve brought together some of the key facts to help you understand what causes high cholesterol and what you can do to reduce the levels in your body. 

So firstly, what is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a lipid (or fat chemical) which is made in your body by the liver and which is also found in some foods. We need cholesterol as it’s vital for the functioning of our body, however too much of it can increase the risk of serious health conditions, such as heart disease.

There are two main forms of cholesterol:

As a general rule, the higher the LDL cholesterol level, the greater the potential risk to your health. For more information on what a healthy level of cholesterol looks like, take a look at Heart UK’s guide.

What causes high cholesterol?

There are a variety of different factors which can contribute to having high cholesterol, these can include:

What does it mean if you have high cholesterol?

Whilst high cholesterol itself does not cause any symptoms, it can increase your risk of other serious health conditions. This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall and restrict the flow of blood around your body. The risk of a blood clot developing can also increase.

High cholesterol can have an effect on your risk of suffering the following:

The risk of coronary heart disease, caused by the blockage of your heart’s blood supply, also rises as your blood cholesterol levels go up. This can cause pains known as angina in the front of your chest or arm during physical activity.

So what can I do to reduce my cholesterol levels?

Other useful links:

Cholesterol FAQs from Heart UK

British Heart Foundation guidance

NHS guide to preventing high cholesterol

Patient UK guide to cholesterol

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