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Updated on March 4, 2021

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by your body to keep your cells healthy as well as making hormones, vitamin D and substances to help you digest food. Cholesterol is also found in food that we eat from animal sources such as meat, dairy product and egg yolks.

Cholesterol exists in our body in several forms

  • HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver and is considered the ‘good’ cholesterol
  • LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) carries mainly cholesterol in the body
  • VLDL (Very Low-Density Lipoprotein) carries mainly triglycerides

LDL and VLDL are considered ‘bad’ cholesterol because it contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries.

Click to view AHA video on Cholesterol

What Causes High Cholesterol?

  • Unhealthy lifestyle with little or no exercise
  • High fat diet with saturated fats or deep-fried foods
  • Smoking
  • Overweight with high BMI
  • Genetics (family history)
  • Older age group

Diseases associated by excess cholesterol

Excess cholesterol in your blood can form plaques in your arteries called atherosclerosis which will narrow and reduce the blood flow into your vital organs like the heart, brain, kidney and legs resulting in higher risk of;

How is high cholesterol diagnosed and monitored?

There are usually NO symptoms that you have high cholesterol until it is too late when you get a heart attack or stroke.  Luckily, your cholesterol level can be measured using a simple blood test (which can be done after you have fasted for over 8 hours).

Treatment of High Cholesterol

If your cholesterol levels are high and you have risk factors, your doctor may recommend medication to reduce the amount of cholesterol in your body because this should reduce your risk of getting a heart attack or stroke.

1. Statin medication work by blocking the liver enzymes from producing cholesterol.  Even when you are taking medication, you should also change and maintain a healthier lifestyle.  These include Atorvastatin (Lipitor), Fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Altoprev and Mevacor), Pitavastatin (Livalo), Pravastatin (Pravachol), Rosuvastatin (Crestor) and Simvastatin (Zocor)

There some minor side effects which you should inform your doctor or pharmacists so that he/she can change to a different dose or different formulation.  These side effects include;

  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or drowsiness
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Abdominal cramping pain
  • Pins and needles or tingling sensation on the skin
  • Skin rash like acne
  • Liver or pancreas inflammation
  • Myositis (inflammation of the muscles)

2. Fibrates reduce your triglycerides and raise your HDL.  These include Clofibrate (Atromid), Gemfibrozil (Lopid) and Fenofibrate (Antara, Lofibra and Triglide)

There some minor side effects which you should inform your doctor or pharmacists so that he/she can change to a different dose or different formulation.  These side effects include;

  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain

3. Ezetimbe (Ezetrol) is a selective cholesterol absorption inhibitor which helps lower LDL cholesterol by preventing its absorption by the intestines.  It is used when statins are not tolerated due to side effects and also as adjunctive therapy with statins.

There some minor side effects which you should inform your doctor or pharmacists so that he/she can change to a different dose or different formulation.  These side effects include;

  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain
  • Runny nose or sore throat
  • Joint pains

Prevention Do’s and Don’t’s

DO check your cholesterol 2-3 times a year

DO eat a healthy diet

DO choose foods which are low in cholesterol

DO regular exercises

DO consider taking medication to reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke

DO NOT smoke

DO NOT stop your cholesterol medication without discussing with your doctor or pharmacist

See your doctor to have regular blood tests to monitor your cholesterol and glucose levels

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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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