Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Take Action for Healthy Lifestyle

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Take Action for Healthy Lifestyle

Article excerpt

Byline: By Louise Redvers

There have been a lot of health warnings about cholesterol over recent years.

Supermarket aisles bulge with new products that claim to help you reduce it and all sorts of home testing kits are on sale to help you test your own.

But what is cholesterol and why do we need to watch our levels?

Cholesterol is a vital body function. Without it, we wouldn't work. In our bodies we have millions and millions of tiny cells and cholesterol forms part of these cell walls.

It is used to insulate nerve fibres and to make hormones which transport chemical signals around our bodies.

However, and this is the bit we're always being told, having too much cholesterol in the body puts you at greater risk of coronary heart disease.

Calculating this risk is quite complicated and other factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, being overweight, too much salt and a family history of heart disease all need to be considered.

Currently, people who are considered to have a 30% risk of a heart attack are given drugs called statins to reduce their cholesterol. But according to Rowlands Gill GP Rob Dawson, more people could be eligible for the treatment under Government guidelines soon to be published.

"The rules are likely to change very soon and that will mean more people will be given medication to reduce their cholesterol.

"This will cost a lot more to start with, but in the long term it will hopefully lead to fewer people needing hospital treatment for coronary heart disease."

Cholesterol can be measured by a blood test at your GP's surgery or you can buy a home testing kit.

But Dr Dawson warned that getting pre-occupied with cholesterol numbers wasn't the answer and people should really concentrate on losing weight, quitting smoking and eating healthier food.

"High cholesterol really only becomes a problem when it's accompanied by a family history of heart disease and the patient is a smoker or overweight. …

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