High Cholesterol Major Risk Factor

High cholesterol, that is, high ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL – low density lipoprotein), can increase your chances of getting numerous diseases. If you fail to do anything about your high cholesterol you are putting your health at serious risk. High cholesterol increases your risk of:

  • cardiovascular disease (heart disease)
  • stroke
  • certain cancers

A recent study has shown that high cholesterol can lead to stroke in otherwise healthy people:

Healthy women with no history of heart disease or stroke significantly increase their chances of having a stroke if they have high cholesterol, according to a study of more than 27,000 women.

Our findings further underscore the importance of cholesterol levels as a risk factor for stroke, even if you have no history of heart disease and are otherwise healthy,"

"Our findings show otherwise healthy women with high cholesterol were more than twice as likely to suffer a stroke compared to healthy women with lower cholesterol levels," said Kurth. "Our data strongly supports the notion that cholesterol levels are a biologic risk factor for stroke and that avoiding unfavorable cholesterol levels may help prevent stroke."

High Cholesterol Risk Factors

There are a number of factors which determine your level of cholesterol. Some of these are out of your control while others can be controlled by changing your behaviour (such as changing your diet and exercise regime) or by taking cholesterol lowering medication. Risk factors for high cholesterol include:

  • Age
    Men over 45 and women over 55 are more at risk.
  • Gender
    After menopause, women often have higher total cholesterol levels than men of the same age.
  • Family History
    Your risk increases if your parents or siblings suffered from early heart disease.
  • Diet
    A diet high in saturated fat raises your total cholesterol level. Foods high in saturated fat include meat, dairy products (especially cream and cheese), lard, coconut oil, and butter.
  • Weight
    Being overweight tends to increase your LDL cholesterol level.
  • Exercise
    Increased exercise can not only help you to lose weight but can also help to reduce your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and increase your ‘good’ cholesterol levels.
  • Stress
    Stress over the long term has been shown to lead to an increase in cholesterol levels.

If you are at risk of having high blood cholesterol levels then it’s advisable to have your cholesterol level checked by your GP on a regular basis. Your doctor can discuss your risk of heart disease and stroke and methods of reducing the risks.