Cholesterol is a fatty substance that’s made by your liver and found in some foods. It’s carried through your bloodstream by lipoproteins.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) takes cholesterol back to the liver, where it can be passed out of the body as a waste product. This is known as ‘good cholesterol’.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carries cholesterol to your cells. Your body needs cholesterol to help with important tasks such as digestion and Vitamin D production. However, when your body has more cholesterol than it needs, the excess clings to your artery walls. This is why LDL is known as ‘bad cholesterol’, as it can put you at risk of serious health conditions, such as:
High cholesterol doesn’t really cause symptoms, so it’s important to deal with it straight away. Our doctors can offer advice that will help you get your cholesterol down.
The reason high cholesterol is so dangerous is that it doesn’t really have any symptoms. Often, the first sign that it’s a problem is a serious medical crisis, such as a heart attack or stroke.
A blood test will highlight any issues with your cholesterol levels. Our doctors can arrange for a simple, painless blood test to be sent to your home. The test kit will contain an easy-to-use finger prick device and test tube that will allow you to collect a sample and send it to our lab.
Alternatively, our doctors can arrange for you to take this test at your local surgery.
Your sample will be tested for LDL and HDL cholesterol, to check that you have the correct balance. You may need to avoid food and drink for a few hours before the test in order to ensure accurate results.
Any amount above 240 milligrams per decilitre is considered too high. Even if your results come back fine, it’s important that you’re retested every 4-6 years to check that your cholesterol is still at a safe level.
For many people diagnosed with high cholesterol, a few lifestyle changes will help reduce their cholesterol to a safe level. Our doctors can create a unique plan to fit your needs, which may include:
If these changes don’t lower your cholesterol, our doctors may suggest medication. Options include:
High cholesterol can lead to serious health issues if left untreated. If you’re worried about your cholesterol levels, our GPs are here from 6am - 11pm, 7 days a week to offer advice and treatment.
You can have an appointment on your smartphone, tablet or computer at a time to suit you.
One of the biggest causes of high cholesterol is a poor diet. Foods that are high in saturated fat, such as cheese, red meat and pastries, all contain LDL cholesterol that will clog your arteries. This is especially dangerous when combined with not getting at least 30 minutes of physical exercise a day.
Smoking doesn’t help either. Cigarettes contain chemicals that stop HDL from getting cholesterol back to the liver. This means is stays in your body, where it can’t be used and will further narrow your arteries.
You’re also more at risk of high cholesterol if you have family history of stroke or heart issues, particular if the relative in question experienced these problems before the age of 50.