25% of men over 55 have high cholesterol.
all about high cholesterol
Cholesterol is a type of fat that helps our organs and cells function. Our livers naturally make all the cholesterol we need, but we get extra cholesterol from eating certain foods like butter, pies, some meats, processed foods, and fried foods. This extra cholesterol goes straight into our bloodstream and too much of it can block our arteries and cause a heart attack or stroke.
There are often no outward signs or symptoms that indicates we could have high cholesterol, but what we eat plays a large role. If we are eating too many foods that are high in fat like deep fried foods, chips, crackers and processed meats, this can cause us to have high cholesterol.
Because of this, if we are overweight this can be a sign we will have high cholesterol, but this is not always the case. Skinny men get high cholesterol too. The only way to check your cholesterol level is to get a blood test.
Our cholesterol levels start to rise from age 20.
High cholesterol is more common in men who:
- Eat a lot of saturated fats
- Are overweight
- Are inactive
- Smoke cigarettes
High cholesterol can be hereditary. If someone in your family has high cholesterol, you have a higher chance of developing it.
Cholesterol is measured in millimoles per litre (mmol/L). An optimal reading is less than 5.2. High cholesterol is greater than 6.2. Anything in between is borderline.
A cholesterol test is recommended every 5 years from age 20, and more often if you are over 50.
You can have a basic cholesterol check done with a ‘finger prick’ test, which will determine the overall cholesterol level in your blood.
If this test comes back showing high cholesterol, your doctor will refer you to a lab to get a “lipid panel” blood test.
A lipid panel blood test will tell you your overall level of cholesterol, as well as the levels of cholesterol transporting lipoproteins in your blood. There’s only one type of cholesterol, but it’s carried around the body by two different lipoproteins. LDL (low density lipoprotein) carries cholesterol to our organs and cells where it gets deposited, even if our bodies don’t need it (bad cholesterol) HDL (high density lipoprotein) carries cholesterol away from our arteries to our liver to be disposed of, which is what we want (good cholesterol).
The results of the lipid panel test will help you and your doctor determine the best course of action.
Small lifestyle changes are the key to lowering cholesterol. This usually means cutting down on bad cholesterol foods and doing more exercise.
Depending on your age and current levels of cholesterol, LDL and HDL, your doctor may also prescribe medication to help lower your cholesterol. The most common type of medication prescribed are stantins. Stantins work to lower your LDL cholesterol and overall cholesterol levels.
After trying medication and lifestyle changes, if your arteries are still blocked by cholesterol, your doctor might discuss the possibility of surgery.
inside our arteries