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High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is when you have too much of the fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. Having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia. There are 'good' and 'bad' types of cholesterol - it is the ‘bad’ cholesterol that leads to narrowing of your blood vessels, restricting the flow of blood.

High cholesterol does not always cause symptoms. You can only find out if you have it from a blood test.

Anyone can get high cholesterol, and it can be caused by many different things. Some things you can control like lifestyle habits, others you can’t. If you take care of the things you can control, you’ll help lower your risk. 

If you have diabetes, you are at greater risk from high cholesterol.


Action you should take includes:

  • being physically active
  • maintaining a healthy weight and reducing your waistline
  • not eating too much saturated fat
  • stopping smoking, as smoking damages your arteries and makes it easier for cholesterol to stick to your artery walls

Exercise more – aim to do at least 2.5 hours of exercise a week. Some good things to try when starting out include walking, (although you do need to try and walk fast enough to ensure your heart beats faster), swimming or cycling. You are more likely to keep exercising if you enjoy it so try a few different exercises until you find something you like.

Maintain a healthy weight - eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, fibre, wholegrains and pulses; cut down on processed foods, fat and sugar.

Eat less saturated fat – you can still have foods that contain a healthier type of fat called unsaturated fat. Try and eat more oily fish, like mackerel and salmon, brown rice, brown bread and wholemeal pasta, nuts and seeds and a variety of fruits and vegetables. You should avoid eating fatty and processed meats, butter, lard and ghee, cream and hard cheese, cakes and biscuits and food that contains coconut oil or palm oil.

Stop Smoking - smoking multiplies your risk of developing heart and circulatory disease.