What does Cholesterol mean for my heart health?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance we all have in our blood and is essential for healthy cells. When cholesterol levels get too high, the excess cholesterol gets deposited in your blood vessels and increases your risk of heart disease.

High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease that you can change.

Overtime the fatty deposits in your blood vessel grows, as your blood vessels narrow your risk of a heart attack or stroke increase.


What causes high cholesterol?

High Cholesterol can be genetic, but in general raised cholesterol levels are a result of lifestyle choices. A diet high in saturated fat and a sedentary lifestyle are the main drivers of high cholesterol levels. A change in your lifestyle can make a big difference to your cholesterol levels, meaning that its preventable and highly treatable way to reduce your risk of future heart disease.

How do I know if I have high cholesterol?

There are often no symptoms of high cholesterol before a cardiac event, the only way to know your Cholesterol level is by having your blood checked. We recommend once you are 40 years and over you know your cholesterol.

What do my cholesterol results mean?

When you have a blood test for your cholesterol your doctor may discuss certain terms with you.

LDL Cholesterol – The ‘bad cholesterol’ LDL leaves cholesterol in your blood vessels

HDL Cholesterol – The ‘good cholesterol” HDL helps removes cholesterol from your blood vessels and return it to your liver for disposal.

Total Cholesterol – the combination of HDL plus LDL cholesterol found in your blood.

What lifestyle changes can I make to reduce my cholesterol levels?

  • Reduce your saturated fat intake – less cakes, biscuits, fatty meat, dairy and coconut or palm oil containing products.
  • Increase your dietary fibre intake – fruit, vegetables, pulses and whole grains.
  • Increase your exercise levels – aim to move everyday, every step counts.

Why have I been prescribed a statin for my cholesterol?

Sometimes your overall risk and cholesterol levels need more than lifestyle changes alone. Statins are the gold standard of care for patients with a high risk of future heart disease and a raised cholesterol.

They have two key benefits:

  • They reduce your cholesterol level
  • They stabilise the existing plaque in your blood vessels

Together these actions reduce your future risk of heart disease.

When was the last time you checked your cholesterol?

If you are concerned about your heart health, see your GP to check your cholesterol levels and have a full heart health check.