National Cholesterol Month 2021

October

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Health Assured team

21 October 2021

Every 5 minutes, someone in the UK will suffer from a heart attack¹.

National Cholesterol Month is a month-long awareness campaign organised by Heart Research UK, with the aim of raising awareness of the dangers associated with high cholesterol.

What is 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, dairy products 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.

‘Good’ & ‘bad’ cholesterol

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

"Bad cholesterol" carries cholesterol from the liver into the cells, where it can build up in the artery walls.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

"Good cholesterol" carries the cholesterol in the blood back to the liver, where it is broken down.

High cholesterol

Research has strongly indicated that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:

  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Blood clots
  • Transient ischaemic attacks (A mini stoke)
  • Peripheral arterial disease

Preventing high cholesterol

There are numerous ways to reduce the risk of 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
  • Oats
  • Fruits and vegetables

Exercise

Regular 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 from transporting fatty deposits to the liver, leading to high ‘bad’ cholesterol and narrowing of the arteries. This can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

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.

Did you know?

  • There are 2.3 million people in the UK living with coronary heart disease¹.
  • Around 24,000 people under the age of 75 in the UK die from CHD each year¹.
  • People with coronary heart disease are twice as likely to have a stroke¹.
  • Coronary Heart Disease is one of the UK’s leading causes of death and the most common cause of premature death¹.

How do I get involved?

The Great Cholesterol Challenge - Help HEART UK raise money 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, simply start fundraising here.

Get a cholesterol test - The best way to find out about your cholesterol levels is by routinely booking a test with your GP. That way, you can receive the best proactive advice if your cholesterol levels appear to be rising.

Social media - Follow HEART UK’s Twitter page for the latest updates regarding National Cholesterol Month and share your achievements via the hashtags #NCMHeartUK and #nationalcholesterolmonth.

If you feel as though you have issues with your mental or physical wellbeing, please call our helpline on: 0844 891 0354

References43

¹ Bhf.org.uk. 2021. BHF Statistics Factsheet - UK. [online] Available at: <https://www.bhf.org.uk/-/media/files/research/heart-statistics/bhf-cvd-statistics-uk-factsheet.pdf?la=en&rev=42405b6688534ce2bfd296caaea53b62&hash=87ADB54E506D1A86B819FF34F88584F6AA3BCAE2> [Accessed 20 October 2021].

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