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National Cholesterol Month is a month long awareness campaign organised by HEART UK, with the aim of raising awareness of the dangers associated with high cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found naturally in the blood and it’s vital for the normal functioning of the body. Cholesterol is predominantly produced in the liver, but it can also be found in foods such as red meat, high fat cheese, butter and eggs.
Cholesterol is essential for maintaining a healthy body however, when the cholesterol level in your blood becomes too high, it can cause serious and life-threatening problems.
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol: "Bad cholesterol," carries cholesterol from the liver into the bloodstream, where it can stick to the blood vessels.
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol: "Good cholesterol," carries the cholesterol in the blood back to the liver, where it is broken down.
Research has indicated that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:
- Heart attacks
- Transient ischaemic attacks
- Peripheral arterial disease
There are numerous ways in order to reduce the risk of having high cholesterol, they include:
Diet - There are two types of fats in food; saturated and unsaturated. You should avoid foods containing saturated fats, as they will increase the levels of "bad cholesterol" in your blood.
Foods that are high in unsaturated fat and reduce the risk of high cholesterol include:
- Nuts & seeds
- Oily fish
- Fruits and vegetables
Exercise - Moderate physical activity can help raise levels of ‘good cholesterol’ in your blood. Adding exercise to your daily routines, even for short intervals will help make a difference. Good examples include swimming, cycling and walking.
Stop smoking - Smoking stops HDL transporting fatty deposits to the liver, leading to high cholesterol and narrowing of the arteries. This can increase your risk of suffering from heart attacks and strokes.
The benefits of stopping smoking appear early too. In fact, within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.
- Coronary Heart Disease remains the number one killer in the UK.
- Coronary heart disease is Europe’s most common cause of death before the age of 65.
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for 38% of male and 37% female deaths before the age of 75.
- Every year, CVD costs the UK economy £19 billion.
The Great Cholesterol Challenge - Help HEART UK raise £50,000 for life altering research by reaching 100 miles of exercise this October. You can run, swim, walk, cycle or row your way to your target, just make sure you register your activity here.
Blood tests - The best way to find out how high your cholesterol levels are, is by routinely booking blood tests with your GP. That way, you can receive the best proactive advice if your cholesterol levels appear to be rising over a period of time.
Social media - Follow HEART UK’s twitter page for the latest updates regarding National Cholesterol Month and share your achievements via the hashtag #nationalcholesterolmonth.
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