High cholesterol: Key factor that can cause ‘problems’ for blood fat levels

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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Cholesterol is a type of fat that is carried in your blood.

It is vital to keeping our cells functioning normally, but having an excess can lead to poor health.

“Young men are statistically more likely to have problems with high cholesterol than young women,” explains Dr Rhianna McClymont, lead GP at t Livi.

“Although this trend generally reverses after women reach menopausal age when their risk of high cholesterol increases.

“There are generally no outward signs of a problem – that’s why it’s often best to get tested.

“Your GP can measure cholesterol using a blood test and will consider your age, sex, weight, blood pressure, personal and family medical history before deciding on an action.”

Dr McClymont offers five lifestyle changes that can improve cholesterol levels in people at risk.

Three are dietary in nature, the first being to cut back on saturated fats, which are found in red meat and dairy products.

The second being to increase the amount of fibre you eat, which has been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

The third is to cut out processed foods where possible, moving more meals towards home cooking.

This gives you control over the amount sugar, salt, and fat in your diet as these are all common ingredients in processed foods.

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Behavioural changes are also an effective pillar of controlling cholesterol.

Exercising regularly and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking are the key aspects of improving cholesterol.

Dr McClymont explains that a person who quits smoking may see improvements to their cholesterol within three weeks.

Your GP can put you in touch with support systems to help you stop smoking and to keep them out of your life.

Dr McClymont continued: “If diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor might prescribe you a statin, as they block production of the harmful LDL cholesterol.”

Statins have a proven record of extending lifespan and improving quality of life by reducing the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

A 2016 study by the British Heart Foundation found that patients were more than 10 percent more likely to stop taking statins after periods where the media published negative headlines about them.

Stopping statins early is linked to a 26 percent greater risk of a heart attack, and an 18 percent greater chance of dying from cardiovascular causes.

Cholesterol’s role in heart disease is slow and cumulative.

Excess cholesterol in the blood forms plaques on the walls of the arteries, narrowing the blood vessels.

When this occurs close to the heart blood flow to the organ may be restricted, limiting oxygen flow to the heart.

When blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off, a heart attack occurs.

When the same occurs in the brain, a stroke is the result.

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