High cholesterol is considered a condition rather than a disease, and it affects around 6% of adults in the UK. Cholesterol in itself is not inherently bad, in fact it is required by the body in order to function correctly. However there is a difference between high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or 'good' cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the type which in excess can cause serious medical problems).
Most people only become aware that they suffer from high levels of LDL when they suffer from complications or if a doctor specifically tests for it. It is important to reduce your cholesterol if you are diagnosed with high levels, as it can lead to dangerous consequences such as atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing of the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
In most cases this condition is reversible and can be treated through lifestyle changes, more physical exercise and a healthier diet low in saturated fat. However, statin medication is sometimes needed alongside these lifestyle changes.
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There are a number of factors which may contribute to someone having high levels of LDL. These include a diet high in saturated fat, with an excess of red meat, processed food and full-fat dairy products. Obesity or a lack of exercise can also be a cause, as can familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), which is a genetic disorder which causes higher levels independently of lifestyle. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels can also be increased by excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. While narrowing of the arteries is more likely to occur with age in everybody, men are statistically more prone to high levels than pre-menopausal women.
The reason why cholesterol is sometimes categorised into 'good' and 'bad', is because we all need certain levels of lipids (fatty substances which comprise cholesterol) in our blood stream in order to produce certain hormones. It is transported through the bloodstream through proteins, which when combined with cholesterol is known as a lipoprotein.
There are two types of lipoproteins. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) carries the cholesterol from the cells to the liver, where it is broken down and passes through the body. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carries it from the liver to the cells. The problem is that when the cells don't need to use all the cholesterol in the blood stream, it will build a wall in the arteries leading to poor circulation which can cause heart attack and stroke.
If your doctor has conducted a blood test and concluded that your levels of cholesterol are high, it is important that you lower it in order to avoid any further complications.
If it begins to store in the arterial walls, it will restrict the flow of blood to your heart, brain and other organs, increasing your chances of blood clots, coronary heart disease, angina or stroke.
There are two main ways in which it can be lowered: through lifestyle changes and prescription medication. Lifestyle changes are usually the first option and can be highly effective in lowering levels of LDL. However, for many cases medication should be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes.
Patients who are overweight will be advised to lose weight through a healthy diet and increased exercise regime. These changes can also apply to patients of a healthy weight who lead a sedentary lifestyle or eat a lot of saturated fats. In addition, you will be advised to limit your alcohol intake and avoid smoking.
In addition to these changes, certain statin medications are often prescribed to people with high levels of LDL or cardiovascular disease when lifestyle changes alone fail to reverse the condition. Some of the most common statins include Simvastatin, Fluvastatin and Atorvastatin.
121doc is able to prescribe statins (medication to lower LDL levels) to patients whose cholesterol has been diagnosed as high and for whom lifestyle changes alone have failed to help with the condition.
You will need to complete an online consultation so that medical professionals can ensure that the medication you have selected will be safe and effective for you. You will then be issued a prescription and your order will arrive within 24 hours thanks to our free overnight delivery system.