Health

The 6 signs you’re one of 23 million Brits at risk of heart problems from high cholesterol

OVER a third of Brits are at risk of developing high cholesterol as a staggering 23 million lack understanding of the condition, a study has revealed.

High cholesterol affects around six in ten adults in the UK and the condition is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.

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High levels of cholesterol can lead to serious heart conditions [/caption]

Coronary heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide and experts say that almost a quarter of Brits don’t know that products such as butter could be contributing to high levels of cholesterol.

Cholesterol is the fatty substance in your blood and as well as coronary heart disease, can lead to other diseases that impact the blood vessels.

The study, conducted by Benecol also found that 63 per cent of Brits say they don’t worry about their cholesterol levels, while those under the age of 30 say they are least worried.

The research found that the common cold was more of a concern for people in younger age groups.

High cholesterol has no visible symptoms, with 37 per cent of adults being unaware of this – while 20 per cent believe regular exercise can lower cholesterol levels.

The World Health Organisation states that high cholesterol is one of the top ten causes of death around the world and is estimated to result in around 2.6 million deaths each year.

With that in mind, it’s important to know the six signs that you are at risk of developing high cholesterol.

1. A diet high in saturated fat

If you’re diet is full of buttery foods, fatty meats and full fat dairy products then you could be at risk of developing high cholesterol.

The world we live in has made it easier than ever for unhealthy foods to make their way into our homes.

A range of takeaway apps on our phone means that we can order our favourite treat at the click of a button.

Registered dietitian Helen Bond said a change in habits makes all the difference when it comes to high levels of cholesterol.

She said: “People need to be aware that with just a few simple switches to your everyday eating and lifestyle habits, you can move cholesterol levels in the right direction. 

“To help achieve and maintain a healthy cholesterol level, try replacing the saturated fats in your diet – such as butter, full fat milk and fatty meats – with healthier, unsaturated fats – such as vegetable oils, olive oil, skimmed milk or oily fish.”

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You should try and limit your intake of buttery foods if you want to lower your cholesterol [/caption]

2. Not getting enough fruit and veg

The NHS states that we should aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

If you’re not getting your recommended allowance then this could contribute to high levels of cholesterol.

Around 80g of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables counts as one portion of your five-a-day as does a piece of fruit such as a banana or apple.

Helen said that the right amount of fruit and veg is also important in order to boost your levels of fibre.

She said: “You can also boost your intake of fibre by making sure that you eat your 5-A-Day, choose wholegrains and oat products where possible and try snacking on nuts and seeds.”

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Fruit and vegetables are a great source of fibre and you should aim to eat five portions every day [/caption]

3. Smoking

High cholesterol is a condition that affects your blood vessels and smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels.

Research states that smoking makes the bad kind of cholesterol, LDL , stickier, therefore it then sticks to the walls or your arteries.

This then makes them more prone to accumulate fatty deposits.

Smoking has also been proven to lower your good levels of cholesterol, also known as HDL.

4. Obesity

Being obese can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol.

Overweight people are more likely to suffer from high cholesterol, but people who are thin and who have a poor diet can also suffer.

Studies have previously found that being obese can increase cardiovascular risk through factors such as high levels of LDL cholesterol and low HDL.

Elevated blood glucose and insulin levels and high blood pressure – which are often found in people who are obese, can also contribute to high cholesterol.

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Being obese can increase cardiovascular risk through factors such as high levels of bad cholesterol [/caption]

5. Lack of exercise

Exercise can help boost your good cholesterol levels and if you’re not managing to get 150 minutes of exercise a week then you could be at risk of developing high cholesterol.

Going for a walk, attending a gym class or a yoga session can help.

Exercise also helps decrease the particles in your bad cholesterol levels so getting your running shoes on could help prevent you from developing the condition.

6. Age

As we get older we all start to feel a few more aches and pains than usual, but age can also be a contributing factor when it comes to high cholesterol.

Your body’s chemistry changes as you get older, making it harder to break different foods and chemicals down.

As you get older your risk of high cholesterol climbs.

As you age your liver becomes less adequate when it comes to removing the bad cholesterol from your system.

However Helen highlighted that people who are younger also need to take their cholesterol levels seriously.

Helen added that the study reveals a “serious lack of understanding” when it comes to Brits and what they know about cholesterol.

“There are a lot of myths that need dispelling around the subject – primarily that people mistakenly believe that it commonly carries physical symptoms, when in actual fact high cholesterol is not typically a visible ‘thing’. 

“It’s also concerning to see that under 30s are particularly unaware of the associated risks of cholesterol as, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t something that only affects you in later life.

“A large number of young adults also have high cholesterol – around one in six aged between 16 and 24 years – so it’s crucial that people start to think about ways to manage their cholesterol earlier in order to avoid putting their long term health at risk.”

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