HIGH cholesterol can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease – heart disease – which can make heart attacks or stroke more likely.
Atherosclerosis doesn’t have any symptoms to start with but plaques cause the arteries to harden and narrow, restricting the blood flow and oxygen supply to vital organs.
This can also and increasing the risk of blood clots that could potentially block the flow of blood to the heart or brain.
The amount of cholesterol – both HDL and LDL cholesterol – can be measured with a blood test, which is usually recommended by a GP.
NHS Choices said people might be asked not to eat for ten hours before the test to make sure all food is completely digested.
Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.
An ideal level of HDL is above 1mmol/L. A lower level of HDL can increase your risk of heart disease.
NHS Choices said: “Your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL may also be calculated.
“This is your total cholesterol level divided by your HDL level.
“Generally, this ratio should be below four, as a higher ratio increases your risk of heart disease.”
WHAT THE NUMBERS ON YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE READING REALLY MEAN
People concerned about their cholesterol can talk to their GP – and people aged between 40 and 74 can also get their cholesterol checked as part of an NHS health check.
Eating healthily and doing regular exercise can help lower cholesterol in the blood.
This includes reducing the amount of food high in saturated fat – such as meat, butter, cream and cakes, and upping the amount of fibre in diet.
People should be aiming to eat around 30g of fibre a day.