Discover the key to lowering your cholesterol – and keeping it low.
We’ve all heard about the dangers of high cholesterol, but many of us only have a vague idea of what it means and why it’s important to keep our cholesterol levels low. As October is National Cholesterol Month, we decided that now is the perfect time to focus on the subject.
During the month of October, medical professionals, hospitals and charities will be promoting awareness of the dangers of high cholesterol, and raising funds to provide a range of life-saving services such as Heart UK’s Cholesterol Helpline. The specialists and staff at Spencer Private Hospitals are supporting this great initiative, and if you find that your cholesterol is too high, are ready to help you bring it down.
There are a number of at-risk groups – we’ll outline these in greater detail later in the blog – so if you think you might need a cholesterol test, please get in touch and ask for an appointment with one of our consultants.
What’s your question?
- What is cholesterol?
- Am I at risk?
- What does a cholesterol test involve?
- What can I do to reduce my cholesterol levels?
- How can Spencer Private Hospitals help?
Cholesterol is an essential part of a healthy body, and is made by the liver. It plays an important role in helping our cells work properly, and is also needed in the production of vitamin D, hormones and digestive bile. But although it’s vital to our overall health and wellbeing, too much cholesterol in the blood can result in heart and circulatory diseases.
You might have heard that there are two types of cholesterol in your body – ‘bad’, which is known as low density lipoprotein, and ‘good’, which is protective and called high density lipoprotein. Knowing your levels of these two will help you understand your risk of heart disease.
In addition to the cholesterol produced by your body, some foods – notably eggs, shellfish and offal meat– also contain it naturally, but most people don’t need to restrict their consumption of these products. Food that’s high in saturated fats has a far greater influence on the body’s cholesterol levels, so the advice is to reduce your consumption of full cream dairy products such as butter, cheese and yoghurt, and cut back on fatty and processed meat products.
Anyone can have high cholesterol, but some people are at more risk than others. Many factors can play a part, but we recommend you have a test if you are in any of the following categories:
- You have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke, mini-stroke or peripheral arterial disease.
- You have a family history of early cardiovascular disease.
- You have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition.
- You are overweight or obese.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You suffer from diabetes.
- You have a medical condition that can result in increased levels of cholesterol, such as kidney disease, an underactive thyroid or an inflamed pancreas.
- You’re over the age of 40, as once you’ve reached this age you should have your risk of cardiovascular disease reviewed regularly.
Your cholesterol levels can be measured with a simple blood test. Before it’s done, you’ll probably be asked not to eat anything for 10-12 hours – this ensures that the food you have eaten is fully digested and does not affect the test. The levels of your good and bad cholesterol are then determined, as well as the other fatty substances in your blood.
A new type of test has been developed that measures the total cholesterol minus the good cholesterol. It’s not necessary to fast before this test, so it can be more convenient.
While having your cholesterol test, you may choose to take advantage of a comprehensive Spencer Private Hospital health screening assessment. This can provide you with a holistic picture of your overall health, flag up areas of concern and identify potential issues.
If your test results show that you have high cholesterol levels, our specialists can talk you through the different ways you can reduce this. For example, you may be advised to do one, some or all of the following:
- Reduce your consumption of saturated fats, which are present in foods such as sausage, meat pies and fatty cuts of meat, butter, ghee, lard, cream and cheese.
- Cut down on your intake of artificial trans fats, which are found in some cakes, biscuits and other factory made baked goods.
- Instead of roasting and frying your food, try grilling, steaming, poaching or boiling.
- Increase the amount of fibre you eat. This is found in wholemeal bread, bran and wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, pulses such as beans, peas and lentils, and nuts and seeds.
- Exercise! Being active can help lower cholesterol levels, so join a gym, take a jog around the park or simply take a daily walk.
- If these measures don’t help, you may be prescribed medication such as statins, which can assist in lowering cholesterol levels.
Spencer Private Hospitals have built a reputation for providing gold standard private healthcare services in East Kent, so if you’re worried about your cholesterol levels and would like a test, we're here to help. We can also advise you on the diet and exercise regime you should follow.
We have a 22 bed hospital in Margate and consulting suites in Ashford and Canterbury. These facilities are ready to help you enjoy a full and healthy life. To make an appointment with one of our consultants in Margate, please call 01843 234 555, for Ashford, call 01233 616 201 and for Canterbury, 01227 206 700. You can also email us using the enquiry form on our contact page. We look forward to hearing from you.