We need cholesterol in our blood to stay healthy. However, if our level gets too high, it can increase our risk of heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia. High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood.
An unhealthy lifestyle usually causes high cholesterol. Eating an unhealthy diet, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, being overweight and not getting enough exercise can all contribute to high cholesterol levels.
Some types of high cholesterol can also run in families.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
High cholesterol does not cause any visible symptoms. However, your cholesterol level can be tested with a simple finger prick test or blood test. Your doctor or practice nurse will be able to do this for you.
Ways to lower cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, there are many ways to lower it and reduce your risk of health complications. Even if you are taking medication for high cholesterol, it is still worth making these changes as they will boost the cholesterol-lowering power of medications.
Here are 6 ways to lower your cholesterol level.
1. Eat heart-healthy foods
Eating a balanced diet will improve your health in many ways, including reducing your cholesterol levels. Aim to:
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
- Reduce the amount of red meat and full-fat dairy products in your diet
- Cut down on unhealthy snacks such as crisps, biscuits and cakes
- Eat less processed meat such as meat pies and sausages
- Choose brown rice, pasta and bread rather than white
- Increase the amount of nuts and seeds in your diet
- Eat two portions of oily fish a week or a vegetarian alternative such as walnuts or flaxseeds
2. Exercise more
Being more active is another way to stay healthy and reduce your cholesterol levels. Try to be generally more active and break up periods of sitting or lying down with some light activity.
In addition, aim to exercise for 2.5 hours a week.
You could try:
- Walking briskly enough that your heart beats faster
- Following an exercise routine online or from a book or DVD
- Any activity that you enjoy such as tennis, dancing or gardening
3. Stop smoking
Smoking can raise your cholesterol and make you more likely to have serious problems like heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.
If you need help with this, ask your GP or visit the NHS Stop Smoking Service.
4. Cut down on alcohol
Drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol can raise your cholesterol level.
- Drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week
- Drinking everyday
- Binge drinking
If you need help with this contact your GP.
5. Lose weight
Being overweight contributes to high cholesterol. If you follow a healthy diet and exercise plan, you should soon lose a few pounds.
You can start by making small changes such as drinking water rather than sugary drinks, cutting out sugar in tea and walking short distances, for example, by parking further away from the entrance at the supermarket.
6. Medicine to lower your cholesterol
You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol if:
- Your cholesterol level has not gone down even after changing your diet and lifestyle
- You are at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke
Your doctor will prescribe medication if it is necessary.
How Mumby’s Homecare Support can help
At Mumby’s, we believe it is important to take a proactive attitude towards health and wellbeing.
Our carers are trained in a variety of healthcare areas, including exercise and nutrition. Our carers are always on hand to support and advise, helping your loved to stay healthy and happy while living the lifestyle they choose.
Speak to a member of our team today on freephone 0800 505 3511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how a member of our care team can assist you or your loved with their homecare needs.