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High Blood Cholesterol

When you have too much fat in your blood


INTRODUCTION TO HIGH BLOOD CHOLESTEROL
​You have high blood cholesterol when you have a lot of lipids, or fat, in the blood. This is a risk factor for stroke and coronary heart disease, which is the No. 2 cause of death in Singapore, after cancer.


Too much cholesterol means fat builds up in the walls of your blood vessels. This can lead to the vessels becoming blocked, so blood flow is reduced. With less blood getting to parts of your body that need it, your heart muscles can become damaged.


This can lead to a heart attack. If the blood flow to your brain is reduced, you may suffer a stroke.

 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS

​You may not show any signs or symptoms if you have high blood cholesterol, so you should check your cholesterol level if you are over 40 years or have a family history of the problem.

 

You are at risk if you:

  • Have Certain Illnesses
  • Do Not Get Enough Exercise
  • Have Too Much Cholesterol And Fat In Your Diet
  • Are Obese
  • Have Hereditary Metabolic Disorders - ​problems converting food into energy in your body, and which is a problem other members of your family also have.

 

HOW IT IS DIAGNOSED
​Your doctor will check your cholesterol levels, especially your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). These are types of cholesterol. If you already have coronary heart disease, you must watch your LDL levels. HDL, on the other hand, protects against heart disease, so a higher level of HDL is good.

 

HOW IT IS TREATED

Your doctor may first ask you to change your diet to reduce your blood cholesterol level. If that does not work, you may have to take the following types of medicine:

  • Statins: These stop your liver from producing cholesterol
  • Bile acid sequestrants: These remove bile from your body. When your body realises there is less bile, it turns cholesterol into bile, which then helps to lower your cholesterol levels
  • Fibrates: These encourage your body to break down lipoproteins
  • Niacin: This makes your liver cut down on how much LDL is produced

 

HOW TO PREVENT IT

You can control your blood cholesterol level through a healthier lifestyle. This includes:

  • Regular exercise
  • Watching your diet
  • Avoid food with high saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Choose food high in fibre, such as fruits, vegetables and wholegrain products
  • Eat more food with soluble fibre, such as oat and barley, which can reduce your cholesterol level

 

Source: Singapore Silver Pages, an initiative by the Agency for Integrated Care. Reproduced with permission.

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