What you need to know this National Cholesterol Month

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What you need to know this National Cholesterol Month

October 2018 marks National Cholesterol Month, an entire month devoted to raising funds for the charity HEART UK, and raising awareness of the dangers of high cholesterol.

But how much do we actually know about cholesterol? Do we even know what it is?

Many people are confused about how cholesterol differs from fat, which is understandable, given that cholesterol is found in foods that are sometimes high in fat.

But cholesterol is actually a type of lipid, as is fat. Like fat, cholesterol is essential for a range of bodily functions, but unlike fat, cholesterol can’t be exercised off, sweated out or burned for energy.

The body does require a small amount of blood cholesterol to build the structure of cell membranes, and make hormones like oestrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones.

It also helps your metabolism work efficiently. For example, cholesterol is essential for your body to produce vitamin D and bile acids to help you digest your food. It is carried in the blood by proteins, with which it combines to make lipoproteins.

The 2 main types of lipoprotein are:

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) which carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it’s either broken down or passed out of the body as a waste product. For this reason, HDL is referred to as “good cholesterol”, and higher levels are better.
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) which carries cholesterol to the cells that need it. If there’s too much cholesterol for the cells to use, it can build up in the artery walls. For this reason, LDL is known as “bad cholesterol.”

This cholesterol in the body comes from two main sources: the liver and diet. The liver, other organs and other cells in your body product about 75-80% of the cholesterol in the blood, while our diet contributes to about 20-25% of our cholesterol levels.

Foods high in saturated fat which can ultimately increase cholesterol levels include butter, hard margarines, fatty meat and meat products such as sausages, full fat chees, milk, cream and yoghurt.

Eating these foods in excess can therefore lead to a high level of cholesterol in the blood, called hyperlipidaemia.

High cholesterol itself doesn’t cause any symptoms, but it does increase your risk of serious health conditions including cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke because it builds up in the artery walls, restricting the blood flow to your heart, brain, and the rest of the body.

Given its vital role in the body, the serious conditions it can cause should it get too high, and the fact that if high, it does not produce any symptoms, it is extremely important to regularly monitor your cholesterol through blood testing.

Randox offers a range of cholesterol tests to ensure that individuals with high cholesterol get the earliest and most accurate diagnosis. In fact, Randox is responsible for more than 15% of all cholesterol tests carried out across the globe. Randox are tackling the need for better cholesterol testing with our wide range of niche and high-performance assays including sdLDL Cholesterol, Lipoprotein (a) and HDL3 Cholesterol.

For more information about National Cholesterol Month, or cholesterol testing at Randox, please contact the Randox PR team by emailing randoxpr@randox.com or phone 028 9442 2413