Our patients here at Pall Mall Medical often ask if we can check their cholesterol levels. Evidently aware that theirs may be high.
The results can be shocking.
Not only are patients in the ‘at risk’ groups demonstrating cholesterol greater than that recommended by NICE and AMA*, patients we do not expect to have raised cholesterol have scores as high as 7.5mmol/l (upper recommended limit 5.2mmol/l.) These are patients in their early thirties and forties maintaining healthy diets and vigorous exercise regimes.
For many years we have recognised the link between patients who enjoy lavish lifestyles, rich fatty diets and who fail to participate in regular exercise with poorly managed cholesterol. Today, however, we are further confirming the importance of genetics in cholesterol control.
Cholesterol is a lipid (fat), produced by your own body, mainly by the cells in your liver. Cholesterol in small amounts is important to your health. In large quantities, however, the cholesterol builds up and produces fatty lumps in your blood vessels, collectively called ‘atheroma’. This leads to a condition known as ‘atherosclerosis’ which is the hardening of arteries.
As the atheroma builds up and the arteries become less elastic, the resistance to blood flow increases. This can affect the amount of blood able to flow through the arteries of the body including the brain and the heart. If a fatty ‘atheromatous’ plaque breaks off from the walls of an artery and deposits into a narrower vessel, it can lead to a fatal event (thrombosis) such as a heart attack, stroke or a blood clot in the lung.
Cholesterol monitoring and management are therefore incredibly important for your long-term morbidity and mortality. Yet little awareness is made for checking your levels outside of the ‘at risk’ population group. There is little doubt that an Asian male suffering from obesity with high alcohol and fatty food intake is more likely to have higher cholesterol than a 30-year-old white female British triathlete. However, this mindset is allowing many patients to relax and become complacent. Earlier detection of cholesterol above 5.2mmol/l allows earlier intervention and lowered chanced of early onset heart disease (a pre-cursor for heart attacks) and cerebral vascular accidents (strokes).
The Framingham calculation score can be used to test the likelihood of you developing heart disease within the next ten years, taking into account your cholesterol levels, gender, age, blood pressure, smoking status and whether you have diabetes. We can perform this here at Pall Mall Medical and takes only minutes to complete. This can allow us to take the necessary steps to ensure your health and allow you to get the most out of your life.
Raised cholesterol can affect anyone. Get yours tested today.
This post was written by Dr Jenna Burton, a Pall Mall Medical expert. Pall Mall Medical Clinics can be found in Manchester, Newton-Le-Willows and now also in Liverpool City Centre. Call us today to check your cholesterol levels.
*National Institute of Clinical Excellence UK (NICE) and American Medical Association USA (AMA)