Article By: HARRIET WHITEHEAD - READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE
HIGH cholesterol does not tend to cause symptoms, so it is sometimes known as the "silent killer" as it can be a precursor to heart disease and other conditions. You can only find out if you have it from a blood test.
Cholesterol is needed to stay healthy, but high levels are dangerous. High cholesterol is when you have too much cholesterol in your blood, which can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack and stroke. Anyone can get high cholesterol, and it can be caused by many different things. You may be able to lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise.
The NHS says that eating plenty of fibre helps lower your risk of heart disease, and some high-fibre foods can help lower your cholesterol. The health body suggests that adults should aim for at least 30g of fibre a day.
Good sources of fibre include wholemeal bread, potatoes with their skins on, and oats and barley.
“Reducing the total amount of fat in your diet can also help reduce your risk of heart disease,” it says.
The NHS says most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat, which is problematic as eating too many foods high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.
Despite high cholesterol being mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol, it can also run in families.
Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.Like all medicines, statins can cause side effects.
Common side effects include headaches, dizziness, feeling sick, muscle pain and sleep problems.
You should speak to your doctor if you have muscle pain, tenderness or weakness that cannot be explained.
As high cholesterol levels tend not to cause any symptoms and in most cases only cause emergency events, it is important to get yours checked.
If you are over 40, you may have a test during your NHS Health Check. This is a check-up that can help spot early signs of problems like heart disease and diabetes.
Heart UK says: “Anyone can have high cholesterol – even if you are young, slim, eat well and exercise.“
That’s because high cholesterol can be caused by different things. It can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, but it can be genetic too.”
“Your GP might suggest having a test if they think your cholesterol level could be high,” Heart UK adds.
To stave off the risks posed by high cholesterol, it is vital that you intervene early in its development.
Heart UK says to opt for unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils, avocado, nuts and seeds."
Oily fish are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically a type called omega-3 fats," notes the charity.
Despite the fact that there are not normally signs, there are some indicators which you can look out for.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says very high levels may cause symptoms such as fatty bumps on your skin, called xanthomas.
It adds that you may notice greyish-white rings around the corneas in your eye, called corneal arcus.
It notes: “These mostly develop in people who have familial hypercholesterolemia.” Hypercholesterolemia is the term used to refer to a high blood cholesterol level.