What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in the blood which is mostly made by the liver but is also found in some foods. A small amount of cholesterol is important for your body to carry out certain functions. However, having too much cholesterol in the body can cause narrowing in the arteries leading to the heart and brain, significantly contributing to the risk of heart attack or stroke.
At Hickey’s Pharmacy, we focus on helping patients care for their cholesterol to prevent cardiovascular disease. A range of products are available at Hickey’s Pharmacy which can help keep cholesterol at a healthy level (see below).
If you are concerned about your cholesterol you can always speak to one of our pharmacists about Cholesterol Testing.
What is the difference between good and bad cholesterol?
As cholesterol cannot dissolve in water it is carried around the blood on special proteins (lipoprotein). There are two types of lipoprotein in our blood;
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) - transports cholesterol from the liver to the cells in the body. However, if too much cholesterol is delivered to the cells a dangerous build up may occur on the artery walls and cause disease. Therefore, LDL is known as ‘bad cholesterol’. At Hickeys we aim to maintain LDL levels at a healthy level.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) - takes cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver where it can be broken down and excreted from the body. HDL helps to control cholesterol levels and is known as ‘good cholesterol’.
As a rule, we aim to have high levels of HDL and low levels of LDL.
Am I at risk of high cholesterol?
Factors that may increase your risk of high cholesterol include:
- Unhealthy Diet - particularly eating a lot of foods high in saturated fats (bad fats). Sources of saturated fat include full fat dairy products e.g. butter, cream, cheese etc, fatty cuts of meat, sausages and the skin on chicken, deep-fried foods and takeaways, cakes, biscuits and pastries.
- Smoking - stops good cholesterol (HDL) from transporting cholesterol back to the liver
- If you have diabetes, are obese or have high blood pressure you are more likely to also have high cholesterol
- You may also have an inherited form of high cholesterol known as ‘familial hypercholesterolaemia’. This can cause you to have high cholesterol even if you remain very healthy otherwise.
How can I maintain healthy cholesterol levels?
Changing to a diet low in saturated fat is the first thing to do. Aim to replace some foods high in saturated fat with ones that are lower in saturated fat or high in unsaturated fats e.g. eating more vegetables, nuts, seeds, all types of fish and modest portions of lean meat. Go for reduced fat dairy options and avoid frying (especially with animal fat), instead, try grilling, roasting, poaching, boiling or casseroles.
You should also try to adjust other lifestyle choices i.e. give up smoking, exercise more and keep other health parametres e.g. blood pressure in check.
In addition to prescription services, our pharmacist team offer a range of healthcare services.
Get your cholesterol levels checked without an appointment.
Find out if you’re at risk of Diabetes.
Have your blood pressure checked in one of our pharmacies.
Let us help you quit for good.
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