High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol has no symptoms, so it’s impossible to know if your cholesterol levels are healthy without having a blood test. Most people should get their cholesterol checked every five years. But some people will need to get their cholesterol checked more often, and specific medical conditions can increase your risk of raised cholesterol. Express.co.uk chatted to Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy to find out the nine conditions linked to raised cholesterol levels.
You wouldn’t know your cholesterol levels are too high unless you have a cholesterol blood test.
Cholesterol testing is something some people neglect since there are no symptoms, but not checking your cholesterol and treating raised levels could lead to clogged articles, angina, a heart attack or a stroke.
Dr Lee said: “It’s far preferable to have your cholesterol levels checked long before you get to this stage.”
The average person should have their cholesterol checked once every five years, or more often if their last test was abnormal.
The British Heart Foundation recommends all adults have a cholesterol check at any age, even if they feel completely well.
Although testing the over 40s may seem a priority, it is important to test young adults because one in 250 of the UK population will have familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) – a genetic condition that results in high cholesterol levels (usually raised LDL cholesterol).
This needs to be diagnosed at a young age and treated appropriately to stop people from developing heart disease at a young age.
Familial hypercholesterolaemia is not the only condition that can cause raised cholesterol though.
Sometimes the presence of other medical conditions may alert the doctor to check your cholesterol levels.
For example, if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, have experienced a heart attack or mini-stroke, or have an eye disease, your doctor may test you more frequently.
However, it’s not just these obvious conditions that could cause high cholesterol.
Express.co.uk reveals the nine common conditions that could signal high cholesterol and indicate that you need to get your levels checked as soon as possible.
After menopause women’s risk of heart disease catches up with men.
Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the UK?
Dr Lee said: “Women going through the perimenopause would be advised to have their cholesterol levels checked sooner rather than later.
“If they choose to take HRT, it may be helpful to know that HRT tends to lower cholesterol.”
Obesity is dangerous in a number of ways, but it is one of the things that can lead to high cholesterol.
Dr Lee explained: “Obesity is associated with increased amounts of adipose tissue.
“White fat is an active metabolic tissue that secretes proteins and hormones that disrupts metabolism resulting in insulin resistance, chronic inflammation and atherosclerosis.”
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin on the body.
While this condition is a minor irritation to some, many of the two percent of Brits who have it find that psoriasis reduces their quality of life.
Cholesterol is one of the additional worries people with psoriasis have.
Dr Lee said: “Raised cholesterol levels seem to be linked to autoimmune disease, including psoriasis.”
There seems to be a correlation between high cholesterol and lowered bone mineral density, according to Dr Lee.
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens your bones and apparently, a high cholesterol diet increases the risk of osteoporosis.
So, it makes sense that people with osteoporosis should keep an eye on their cholesterol.
Every day, more than 40 people die from liver disease in the UK.
If you drink too much alcohol and are overweight or obese, you’re more likely to have liver disease and high cholesterol.
Dr Lee explained: “Elevated levels of cholesterol result in excess fat being stored in the liver, and this damages your liver function.”
If you’ve got liver disease, you should get your cholesterol checked often and make efforts to reduce it.
Atherosclerosis can affect the renal arteries that supply the kidneys.
Dr Lee said: “As a result, the kidneys are not adequately supplied with blood, and this can damage your kidney function.”
People with kidney disease are more likely to have narrow blood vessels, so monitoring your cholesterol is vital.
An underactive thyroid gland results in raised LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol.
So if you have hypothyroidism or other thyroid disorders, it can be a cause of high cholesterol.
Raised cortisol levels are also linked to raised cholesterol levels.
Dr Lee said: “High cortisol levels activate the renin-angiotensin system – the key enzymes in the kidney that control blood pressure.
“This means that Cushing’s is also associated with raised blood pressure.”
When you drink alcohol it is broken down in the liver and turned into cholesterol and triglycerides.
Dr Lee pointed out: “Drinking too much alcohol damages liver function and leads to elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.”
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