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National Cholesterol Month 2023

It’s National Cholesterol Month 2023… so it’s time to take action and talk about how to reduce our cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a growing problem in the UK and it’s easily preventable with the right lifestyle choices.

Our hearts are the centre of our entire bodies – we literally couldn’t live without them! This is why it’s so important to take proper care of our heart health.

What month is cholesterol awareness month?

National Cholesterol Awareness Month happens in October every year in the UK. This is a time when charities and other health organisations come together to raise awareness of the dangers of high cholesterol and ways to improve your overall heart health.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is found in everyone’s bodies and is needed for cell function, but too much can lead to a build-up of fatty deposits in your blood vessels. This can increase your risk of bigger problems such as a heart disease and stroke.

Remember – certain types of cholesterol are harmless (helpful even!) in lower levels. Higher levels are manageable and sometimes reversible (in less severe cases).

Here are the two main forms you can find in the body:

  • Low density lipoprotein (LDL) – which is known as the “bad” form of cholesterol
  • High density lipoprotein (HDL) – which is known as “good” cholesterol, which helps to carry cholesterol to your liver and absorb the “bad” form from your blood

It’s quick and easy to test your levels if you’re worried. Simply contact a doctor or healthcare professional and get tested with either a blood test or finger prick test. These tested check the level of cholesterol in your blood.

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Most people with high cholesterol will be generally healthy, but there are still other risks to think about. A build up in your arteries can put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and other medical conditions such as:

What reduces cholesterol quickly?Most ways to quickly reduce cholesterol involve being more active and eating better. 
Some main ways to reduce your levels include: 
Reduce the amount of saturated fat/trans fat you eat
Eat ‘heart healthy’ food that is rich in Omega-3
Quit smoking
Lose weight
Drink less alcohol
What are the 5 signs of high cholesterol?High cholesterol is tricky as there aren’t always obvious symptoms.
Symptoms tend to become more apparent if your cholesterol levels are very high.  
Some of the main symptoms of very high cholesterol include:  

Slurred speech
Chest pain
Shortness of breath
Numb fingers or toes
Raised blood pressure
What are the worst foods for high cholesterol?Foods that can make high cholesterol worse (or contribute to levels becoming high) include:  

Food that is high in saturated fat
Salty food
Red meat (e.g. beef or lamb)
Fried food Butter
Is a cholesterol level of 5.5 high?Cholesterol is measured by how much is found in your blood (mmol/L).  
Any cholesterol level above 5.0 is considered to be high.  

5.0 – 6.4 = High
6.5 – 7.8 = Very High
Above 7.9 = Extremely High

Don’t worry if your cholesterol is on the higher side, there are ways to manage and reduce high your levels.

Heart Research UK recommends these top tips to reduce cholesterol and keep your heart at its best:

  • Eat high fibre foods to reduce the risk of heart disease and keep cholesterol levels low. This includes getting your 5-a-day (fruit and veg) plus healthy alternatives to the foods you love such as wholegrain bread, rice or pasta.
  • Believe it or not, a healthy bowl of porridge in the morning can help with your cholesterol levels. Porridge oats contain beta-glucan which is a form of soluble fibre known to help lower cholesterol.
  • Swap out the saturated fats for health forms of fat (unsaturated) like oily fish, olive oil and avocados to increase your ‘good cholesterol’ levels.
  • Exercise more and stay fit and active to keep your heart healthy and at it’s absolute best.

If your doctor has diagnosed you as having high cholesterol, they can prescribe medication to treat it like:

  • Aspirin
  • Atorvastatin
  • Ezetimibe
  • Niacin
  • Rosuvastatin
  • Simvastatin
  • Statins

There are some brilliant charities working to promote heart health in the UK. If you need extra support or want to look through some useful resources, you can speak to:

All of these charities do great work to provide helpful information and FREE support for people who are worried about their heart health and need more help and information.

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YES – most of the time high cholesterol won’t cause any major problems when buying a policy like life insurance. You shouldn’t have cholesterol excluded as a reason to claim which means your cover will be the same as it would for someone with no medical conditions.

There’s also some easy ways to save money on your life insurance – with the added bonus of improving your general health.

  1. Reduce your cholesterol readings – make some lifestyle changes and exercise more to help reduce your cholesterol levels and this should lead to a lower price.
  2. Quit smoking – this will help anyone no matter what their cholesterol levels are. Smokers (or vapers) will generally pay more for life insurance because of the associated risks. You can save significantly once you are classed as a non-smoker (after 12 months of quitting).
  3. Talk to an expert – the best and easiest way to save money on high cholesterol life insurance is to speak to a life insurance specialist. An expert will have the right knowledge and experience to find a policy that includes all the features you need at a fair price.

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