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At LloydsPharmacy, we’re here to help you look after your heart. We can help you understand your cholesterol levels, what high cholesterol means and how you can lower them, if you’re recommended to.
High cholesterol is the most common cause of heart disease and stroke; and prevention is the best cure. That’s why we've teamed up with LetsGetChecked to provide expert advice on your heart health and cholesterol levels.
The British Heart Foundation* report that 26% of all deaths in the U.K are caused by circulatory diseases. We can help you understand common signs and symptoms of high cholesterol levels and heart disease, so you can track, monitor and improve your health.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy lipid that is found in the blood and includes triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
Cholesterol is produced in the liver and is found in every cell in the body. It is an essential component for optimal health. Your body naturally produces cholesterol in the body, but you can increase your cholesterol intake through nutrition.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
High cholesterol does not have symptoms per se, which is why it is a good idea to regularly check your levels. It is important to check cholesterol levels particularly if you have high blood pressure, you are overweight or you maintain a sedentary lifestyle. You may also want to consider checking your cholesterol levels if you have made any drastic dietary changes. Symptoms of high cholesterol may only present themselves during the onset of a more serious condition such as heart disease or stroke.
LetsGetChecked offer a convenient, confidential at home health testing service that replaces waiting lists and worry with privacy and time-efficiency through at home health testing. The LetsGetChecked Cholesterol and Heart Test indicates your level of risk for heart disease by measuring the volume of lipids in your blood.
Can I take steps to lower my cholesterol?
Foods that trigger your cholesterol level to rise may include butter, oils, milk, eggs, meat and fish, and so they should be eaten as part of a balanced diet, alongside daily exercise and plenty of water so you feel nourished, hydrated and energised.
To help lower or manage your cholesterol, you could consider:
- Reducing saturated fats in your diet, such as in red meat or full fat dairy
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Increasing fibre with pulses, vegetables and oats. Perhaps try the latest Oatwell range, which is rich in Oat Beta-Glucan
- Eating food rich in Omega-3, such as salmon and nuts
- Trying out gentle exercise, such as walking or finding a new class
- Quitting smoking, if you do. We have an in store service to help you quit smoking , as well as a range of stop smoking products
- Reduce your alcohol intake
What is the difference between good and bad cholesterol?
“Good Cholesterol”, aka as high-density lipoprotein or HDL is known as good cholesterol as it brings excess lipids from the blood and blood vessels to the liver so it can be processed and expelled from the body. Good cholesterol acts as the transportation for excess fats. This prevents blockages in the heart and the arteries which promotes good health.
“Bad Cholesterol, aka as low-density lipoprotein or LDL is known as bad cholesterol because it circulates excess fat around the body, but it does not promote its expulsion. LDL can transport cholesterol to the heart and arteries which can lead to dangerous blockages causing heart disease and stroke.
All of this might sound like a lot to take it so let’s break it down:
Total Triglycerides: are the most common type of lipids, or fats. Excess foods and drinks are converted into triglycerides. This is visible as body fat.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL): is the “good cholesterol”, and transports the excess “bad cholesterol” from the body.
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL): is the “bad cholesterol”. LDL transports cholesterol to parts of your body that may put you at a high risk for heart disease, like the walls of the arteries in your heart.
What are the symptoms of heart disease?
Heart disease occurs following a build-up of plaque in the artery walls. This slows down or blocks blood flow through the arteries, and through your organs and tissues. If your arteries become completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction).
It is possible to combat heart disease through eating healthily, exercising, quitting smoking and cutting down on your alcohol intake.
Symptoms of a heart attack in men and women differ; men are more likely to have chest discomfort while women are more likely to experience extreme fatigue, nausea and shortness of breath. **
Other symptoms of a heart attack include but are not limited to:
- Inexplicable pain in the neck, jaw, throat, stomach and/or back.
- Experiencing chest pain and tightness, as well as pressure and discomfort in the chest
- Feeling light-headed, dizzy or short of breath on an ongoing basis
- Feeling cold or numb in your arms and/or legs
- Poor blood circulation in your hands and/or feet
Should you take a cholesterol test?
You should monitor your cholesterol levels regardless of what age you are as healthy appearances can hide underlying health issues. You should take extra care to monitor your heart health if:
- You have a family history of heart disease
- You drink alcohol or smoke frequently
- You have a sedentary lifestyle
- You are overweight or obese
- You have diabetes, kidney disease, polycystic ovary syndrome or hypothyroidism
The LetsGetChecked Cholesterol and Heart Test may be the start of your health journey. It is never too late to take control of your health. Track, monitor and improve. It’s good to know.