Raising awareness during National Cholesterol Week.
“High Cholesterol?” asks Rosemary, a fit, middle aged non-smoking tee-totaler, “Why should I be worried about that?” What Rosemary didn’t know, is that if it is allowed to increase over time, Cholesterol can cause narrowing of the blood vessels, leading to heart disease and stroke.
According to the department of health, these circulatory conditions accounted for almost a third of all deaths in Northern Ireland in the last year – and they’re not the sole province of the chain smoking, fry eating, obese male; in fact, during 2012 stroke killed more women here than men.
So just what is cholesterol and where does it come from?
Cholesterol is a rather unpleasant sticky yellow substance, manufactured by the body. It is often found in the foods we eat, mainly in saturated fats from animals. Although it is much maligned, at the right levels, it is actually a good thing! Cholesterol is vital for a range of functions in the body including the metabolism, production of hormones and cardiovascular health, but it is when levels rise that cholesterol becomes a problem, furring up the blood vessels, and Rosemary Cross didn’t know just how high her cholesterol was, until she had a health check:
“I had my health profiled as part of a corporate package through the family business. I honestly didn’t think anything was wrong with me”, admits Rosemary, “I wasn’t entirely happy with my weight, but show me a woman who is? I keep active – running after the grandchildren and I eat quite healthily, so I thought I was ok.”
After just one simple blood test, the medics at Randox Health discovered that the Lisburn housewife’s cholesterol was very high. Dr Gary Smyth, GP at Randox Health said it was concerning:
“Cholesterol is measured in millimoles per litre of blood, anything over 5 mmol/L is high, and Mrs Cross’s level was close to ten mmol/L…one of the highest readings we have taken. We looked into this further and found that her level of LDL, the bad component of cholesterol, was also very high, putting Mrs Cross at real risk of suffering a blockage in the blood vessels which can be fatal.”
“The results were a real wakeup call” says Rosemary, who immediately decided to take action, “I wanted to change this, to reduce my risk of stroke and heart disease so I can be around for my grandchildren, so I went straight to my doctor. He told me to change my diet. It has been six weeks since the health check, I’ve lost half a stone, with half a stone to go, I’m out walking on the Tow Path at least once a day! I am feeling great! During National Cholesterol Week I’d encourage people to take a test…It is just so important.”
Rosemary has been cutting down on saturated fat and eating lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grain cereals, but there could be more to her elevated levels than diet…
Rosemary’s two daughters and son were also tested and their cholesterol was also high. Dr Smyth is encouraging all of them to return for further testing:
“A third of cases of high cholesterol can be due to a genetic condition called Familial Hypercholesterolemia, which occurs in about one in 500 people. They inherit a certain gene which means cholesterol is not properly cleared from the blood stream, this can lead to stroke and heart attack even in younger people. I recommend that both Mrs Cross and her daughter return to us for this specific test.”
During the month of October, to mark National Cholesterol Week (14th-20th October), Randox Health is offering a full range of cholesterol checks for just £49.00. Book yours today by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0870 0100 010.