Cholesterol is a fatty substance (sometimes called a lipid) that your body requires for normal functioning. However, excessive levels of cholesterol increase your risk of serious health conditions. Did you know:
- Approximately 50% of UK adults have a total cholesterol level above the governments recommended guidelines
- High cholesterol can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack and atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries)
- There are 2 main types of cholesterol – low density (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL)
- LDL is often referred to a ‘bad cholesterol’ and HDL ‘good cholesterol’
What causes high cholesterol?
Many factors can contribute to high cholesterol including family history, ethnicity, age, high blood pressure, diet and other lifestyle habits such as drinking to excess and smoking.
Your check for high cholesterol
Your check for high cholesterol involves a simple blood test to measure the various amounts of lipid in your blood stream. This is referred to a lipid panel and is much more detailed than a finger prick cholesterol check because it breaks your cholesterol readings down into the different groups:
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
LDL Cholesterol is sometimes referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’ because high levels can lead to a build up of fat within your artery walls (atherosclerosis), which significantly increases your risk of heart disease.
The calories your body doesn’t burn off after eating are converted into triglycerides and stored within your fat cells. If you consistently eat more calories that you burn your triglyceride level may be high. High triglycerides are associated with higher LDL cholesterol and increased heart disease risk.
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
HDL is sometimes referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ because it helps remove excess cholesterol from your blood therefore protecting against atherosclerosis. Low levels of HDL cholesterol put you at higher risk of heart disease.
HDL/Total cholesterol ratio
HDL/Total cholesterol ratio is calculated by dividing your HDL reading into your Total Cholesterol reading and provides an indicator of heart disease risk. The higher the ratio the higher the risk of heart disease.
How to prepare
In order to get the most accurate readings you should ensure that you fast for at least 4 hours prior to your appointment – otherwise this will affect your results.