Cholesterol Risk Assessment

High blood cholesterol is a major cause of a process called atherosclerosis, which can gradually clog the blood vessels supplying the heart, brain and other parts of the body. This ‘clogging’ may eventually prevent the blood from getting to parts of your heart or brain, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

In Australia, 32% of adults have high blood cholesterol – that’s 3.2 million adults. Research shows that if you lower your blood LDL cholesterol levels you will lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.  ( source:Heart Foundation Website)

There are two types of cholesterol. HDL is the ‘good’ cholesterol and LDL is the ‘bad’ cholesterol. Eating foods rich in saturated fats will increase the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body, which is a risk factor in coronary heart disease.

Too much cholesterol circulating within LDL in our bloodstream leads to fatty deposits developing in the arteries. This causes the vessels to narrow and they can eventually become blocked. This can lead to heart disease and stroke.

There are several lifestyle changes that will help to lower blood cholesterol levels.

The Heart Foundation recommends:

  •  Be smoke-free (for information and help on quitting smoking, call the Quitline on 13 QUIT)
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Choose polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils and margarine spreads
  • Choose foods such as wholegrain bread and cereals, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, vegetables, fruits, legumes (e.g. chick peas, kidney beans and lentils), lean meats and poultry, oily fish and reduced, low or no fat dairy  products
  • Consume plant sterol enriched foods as part of a health eating plan
  • Limit cholesterol-rich foods if advised to do so
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 2 standard drinks per day for men and women
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.

For some people, diet and lifestyle changes are not enough. High blood cholesterol levels often have a genetic component. Some people inherit altered genes that cause high cholesterol and this cannot usually be changed sufficiently by lifestyle or diet.

If you are at risk of coronary heart disease and your LDL cholesterol level doesn’t drop after scrupulous attention to diet, your doctor may recommend medications to force your blood LDL levels down.


The Better Health Channel and The Heart Foundation

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