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Don’t assume that the Cholesterol test you were given a few years ago will suffice, think again, unfortunately Cholesterol levels increase as we get older.  Plymouth Chiropractor Kevin Kelly provides some useful information.

Who should be tested?

The NHS recommends that everyone over the age of 40 should be screened for high cholesterol approximately every five years to see if there is any risk to your cardiovascular system, ie. Your heart and blood vessels.  They also recommend that certain high risk groups should be tested, please see below:

If you have been diagnosed with either coronary heart disease, a mini-stroke (TIA), a full blown stroke or peripheral arterial disease.

If you have diabetes or high blood pressure.

If there is a family history of early cardiovascular disease (for example, if your mother or sister had a heart attack /or developed heart disease or had a stroke before they reached 65 years of age, or if your brother or father developed these conditions before reaching the age of 55).

If you are obese or overweight.

If there is a history of cholesterol related conditions in close family members. Conditions such as familial hypercholesterolaemia (inherited high cholesterol) fall into this category.

If you have a medical condition which causes the formation of high triglycerides, such as Pancreatic inflammation, kidney disease or an underactive thyroid.

Stress can also play a major role in heart disease, when we get stressed our body’s fight or flight mechanism comes into operation …. to provide energy for our muscles to fight or run fat is released into the blood stream so it can be quickly used by these muscles, of course if your not fighting or running some of this fat will get deposited as cholesterol inside your arteries clogging them up.

How are you tested?

A simple blood test is administered to test for blood cholesterol levels. There are two main types of cholesterol tested HDL cholesterol (which is good for you from nuts, some vegetable oils and fish) and LDL cholesterol which is bad for you from animal fat, butter and cream), other types of fats in the blood (Triglycerides) will also be tested.   The actual ratio of these two types of cholesterol is also important.   You may be asked to abstain from food for 10 hours before the test to get a more accurate reading….. best to have the test early morning!

To keep an extra eye on things you may wish to use one of the self testing kits every year or so, these are supplied by most Chemists, and are fairly accurate, if they do show any increases please visit your GP to get a more accurate test.