High Blood Cholesterol refers to high levels of lipids in the blood. It is one of the main risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke. Understanding high blood cholesterol is important as coronary heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Singapore, after cancer. Lipids are fatty substances in our bodies which play an important role in all living cells. These include cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and fatty acids. However, when there is too much cholesterol and/or triglycerides in our body, we are at risk of certain diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A person with high cholesterol level does not show any signs and symptoms. Hence, it is important for you to check for your blood cholesterol level especially if you are over the age of 40 or have a family history with high cholesterol level.
Too much cholesterol in the blood causes a build-up of fatty deposits on the inside walls of the blood vessels (atherosclerotic plaques). This results in blockage of the blood vessels, causing the blood flow through these blood vessels to decrease. When this occurs in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles, the decrease in blood supply (and therefore oxygen and other nutrients) causes the damage of heart muscles. This condition is otherwise known as coronary heart disease. An individual may experience a heart attack if he or she faces a severe coronary heart disease. When the brain does not receive sufficient oxygen supply, the person will suffer a stroke. The risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke increases when other factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and family history are present.
You most likely face a high risk of having high blood cholesterol if you possess any of the below factors:
It is important to check your cholesterol level regularly, to reduce your susceptibility to coronary heart disease. If your total cholesterol level is between 5.2 and 6.1mmol/L, you are at risk of coronary heart disease. If your total cholesterol level registers at 6.2 mmol/L and above, you could be having hypercholesterolemia, which is attributable to genetic factors, diabetes, obesity, and poor eating habits.
The desirable level of Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) depends on your pre-existing risk for coronary heart disease. If you already have coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, or diabetes, you are in a high-risk group whereby the desirable level is more stringent. However, if you have none or only one risk factor, a higher value of LDL is acceptable before medical intervention is required.
High-Density Lipoprotein(HDL) protects against heart disease, so the higher the HDL levels, the better. A level less than 1.0 mmol/L is low and is considered a risk factor. The risk of heart disease is lower when HDL level is 1.0 mmol/L or more. Women usually have higher HDL cholesterol levels than men. In addition, higher than normal levels of triglyceride places you at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Elevated triglyceride levels are more common in people who are obese or those with poorly-controlled diabetes. Your triglyceride and cholesterol level will most likely increase as you get older and become obese.
If your blood cholesterol level is high and adjusting your diet does not help to reduce your blood cholesterol level, your doctor may start you on some lipid lowering medication. These are divided into 4 main groups:
The suitability of various medications and their side effects varies for different people. Consult your doctor for a suitable prescription.
High Blood Cholesterol can be prevented with controlling your blood cholesterol level. In order to reduce the risk of having high cholesterol level, adopt a healthier lifestyle to include regular exercise and practising dietary control. Avoid food with high saturated fat and cholesterol content and choose food that are high in fibre such as fruits, vegetable and wholegrain products. Food containing soluble fibre such as oats, barley, beans or peas is useful in reducing a person’s cholesterol level.
Find out more information from:
Health Promotion Board
Download healthy recipes in English and Chinese. (Source: Health Promotion Board)
High Blood Cholesterol means that there are high levels of lipids (fatty substances) in the blood. It is one of the main risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke. Lipids play an important role in all living cells, and they include cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and fatty acids. When there is too much cholesterol and/or triglycerides, one is at risk of certain diseases.
The types of lipids are cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are molecules of fat and cholesterol linked to protein.
For a healthy individual, your blood cholesterol levels should be as follows:
(Above figures extracted from HPB)
Anyone can develop high blood cholesterol. Those who are especially at risk are older adults, those with a family history of heart disease or stroke, and overweight individuals.
You can adopt these lifestyle measures to reduce your risk of high blood cholesterol. Lifestyle changes are also important for those who already have high blood cholesterol.
Not necessarily. Numerous foods marked "low cholesterol" can contain oils that may be high in saturated fats, which are not considered healthy. In addition, unsaturated fats like vegetable oil also can be high in calories. The total amount of fat in your diet should be kept to about 20-30 percent of your daily intake. (Above information is extracted from Medicinenet.)
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