High cholesterol – what are the symptoms?
High cholesterol is symptomless. You can only establish that high cholesterol is present is a blood test. At our Harley Street medical centre, our private GP’s at Medical Express Clinic in London can arrange these blood tests for you.
Ask to be tested
Ask your private doctor if it would be advisable for you to have a cholesterol test as recommendations for first screening age vary with five year re-testing.
If your test come back as being outside normal limits, your doctor might ask for more frequent testing. Your private doctor might also suggest testing more often if high cholesterol is present in your family or if there is heart disease or other risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes or if you smoke.
Attached to proteins, cholesterol is moved in the blood. Lipoprotein is the name given to this combination of proteins and cholesterol. You might know of different cholesterol types - based on what type of cholesterol is carried by the lipoprotein. They are:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL, or what is often known as "bad" cholesterol will transport cholesterol particles through your body. LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries, causing them to harden and narrow.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL. This is often called "good" cholesterol. It picks up excess cholesterol returning it to your liver.
Some things you can change — such as being inactive, overweight and not eating a healthy diet will give rise to high LDL and low HDL cholesterol levels. Factors you cannot control like genetics that may prevent cells from being efficient when LDL cholesterol is removed from your blood. Genetic makeup may also mean that you liver over produces cholesterol.
Factors that may increase high cholesterol include:
A Poor diet. Saturated fat found in animal products, as well as the trans fats found in some manufactured baked products, can raise cholesterol levels. Foods that contain high levels of cholesterol like full fat dairy products and red meat will also raise the total cholesterol count.
Overweight. A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over is a risk factor for high cholesterol.
A Large waist measurement. A man with a waist circumference measuring 40 inches (102 cm) and above, or a woman with a waist circumference measuring 35 inches (89 cm) and above are at greater risk.
Being Sedentary. Exercise boosts “good” cholesterol (HDL), increasing the size of the particles of the LDL - "bad" cholesterol, making it less harmful.
Smoking Cigarettes. Smoking damages the walls of blood vessels, predisposing them to gathering fatty deposits. Smoking might also lower your level of HDL, or "good," cholesterol.
Diabetes. Having high blood sugar leads to lower HDL cholesterol and higher LDL cholesterol. High blood also damage the linings of arteries.
Atherosclerosis. High cholesterol can give rise to atherosclerosis when cholesterol and other deposits accumulate to a dangerous level on the walls of the arteries. When these deposits (plaques) form can reduce the flow of blood through the arteries, causing complications, like:
Pain in the chest. When the coronary arteries supplying the heart are affected, there may be chest pain (angina) and other symptoms that indicate coronary artery disease.
Cardiac Arrest. If the plaques rupture or tear, a blood clot might form. The flow of blood will be blocked or the clot may plug an artery elsewhere leading to a heart attack.
Stroke. If a clot blocks the blood flow to part of the brain, the result will be a stroke.