Each year in October, HEART UK campaign to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. As National Cholesterol Month draws to a close, we outline how to maintain a healthy cholesterol level and why it is important to do so given the dangers of having high cholesterol.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your blood. It is needed in your body for digestion, and to make vitamin D and hormones, however it becomes a problem when there is too much of it in your blood.
Dangers of high cholesterol
Excessive cholesterol in your blood can build up and cause narrowed arteries and blood clots. If the arteries are constricted, it is more difficult for the blood to pass through which puts strain on your heart to pump blood around the body, and therefore can weaken the heart. Blood clots may form over the fatty deposits which could block the artery or break away and become lodged elsewhere, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Raised cholesterol levels therefore increase the risks of circulatory disease and stroke. Globally, a third of ischaemic heart disease is attributable to high cholesterol. Almost half of UK adults have raised cholesterol, however this frequently goes unnoticed as there are often no symptoms of high cholesterol. It’s therefore important for everyone to get their cholesterol checked so that they can start treatment if necessary. Treatment is not always required as lifestyle changes can often improve cholesterol levels, however it is important to make changes as soon as possible for the best outcome.
Greater awareness and education about the dangers of high cholesterol is invaluable, given that high cholesterol is a substantial controllable risk factor for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
How to maintain a healthy cholesterol level
Various things can cause heightened cholesterol such as your lifestyle, genes, age, gender, and overall health.
80% of cholesterol is made in the liver, but some cholesterol comes from the food we eat. We can therefore attempt to lower cholesterol with lifestyle changes, for example by eating less saturated fats, keeping active, cutting down on alcohol and avoiding smoking. Some people require treatment to lower their cholesterol levels if lifestyle changes are not lowering the levels sufficiently, or otherwise, if the high cholesterol is caused by a genetic condition.
If you or a loved one have suffered a heart attack or stroke, and have concerns that this could have been prevented by screening and treatment for high cholesterol, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation. Our Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team offer expert advice on this, to find out more about our services, visit our web page, or submit an enquiry.