Cholesterol is a fatty substance that’s made in the liver. Although a little is essential for normal bodily function, too much increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes and vascular dementia.
Some common causes of high cholesterol are:
- A diet high in saturated fat
- Being physically inactive
The only way to know what your cholesterol levels are is to get tested, as there are no symptoms. Your results should be broken down into good (HDL) and bad (LDL/non-HDL) rather than just a ‘total’, as this can be misleading. You can see the suggested ranges of cholesterol for otherwise healthy people here.
A major issue we have is tackling the belief that diet and exercise counterbalance each other. This simply isn’t true – they are independent risk factors. A quote you may be familiar with is ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’, which is quite true and sums it up nicely. Following a healthy, balanced diet as well as keeping active are both vital in managing your risk of heart and circulatory diseases. You can find a range of materials to support your journey to health and help you get started on improving your diet on AF Connect Online.
You should also keep an eye out for fad diets and foods that make bold promises. Losing weight or having the body you want doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy or that your body is getting everything it needs. We’ve seen clear evidence some diets cause huge increases in cholesterol, which can be damaging to your health.
It’s also important to note that smoking cancels out practically every aspect of your lifestyle that’s positive or healthy. Research has shown us this is true even in those who smoke occasionally.
HEART UK offer a range of support to help patients better manage their cholesterol. Their website has a wealth of information that offers scientifically-backed information in a practical and every-day way.
National Cholesterol Month
October is Heart UK’s National Cholesterol Month and the campaign this year is to encourage people to talk about cholesterol. For most people knowing what their cholesterol levels are is the first step in avoiding a heart attack or stroke. Heart UK hope to reach a million people in this campaign, encouraging them to also get an NHS Health Check. This month they are also running The Great Cholesterol Challenge. Being active is a major part of looking after your cholesterol levels, keeping your heart healthy and helping to prevent heart disease. Why not walk, cycle, run or swim 100 miles in October and you could even get sponsored to help raise funds for HEART UK. For more information, please visit their campaign page.
Written by Christopher Allen, Head of Healthcare, HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity