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Residents Association MagazinearrowWinter 2002 - 9

CHOLESTEROL: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. WHAT IS IT?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is mostly made in the body but is also contributed to by fats eaten in the diet. It is important for certain body functions

2. WHY WORRY ABOUT IT?

Having a high level of Cholesterol is one of the risk factors for developing heart disease and other problems such as strokes. Other factors include smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and being overweight.

3. HOW DOES IT INCREASE THE RISK OF HEART DISEASE?

Having a high Cholesterol level contributes to a build up of fatty material within the walls of the blood vessels that supply the heart, hence making them narrower or blocking them.

4. HOW CAN YOU TELL IF YOU HAVE A HIGH CHOLESTEROL?

If your Dr felt it was necessary, then they could arrange a blood test. The Cholesterol level is used in conjunction with other risk factors to see whether Cholesterol lowering treatment is appropriate. The risks and benefits would have to be considered.

5. DOES HIGH CHOLESTEROL RUN IN FAMILIES

Yes it can. This is more likely if a close relative such as your parent had heart disease or a stroke at an early age.

6. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP KEEP YOUR CHOLESTEROL LOW?

a) Try to lose weight

b) Stick to a healthy diet

c) Cut down alcohol

d) Take the medication prescribed by your Dr if they felt it was appropriate. This is usually a tablet called a Statin and treatment usually needs to be continued over a period of years

7. WHAT IS A HEALTHY DIET?

Try to cut down on fatty foods such as butter, cheese, cream and fish and chips!. Try to eat foods such as bread, pasta, rice and plenty of fruit and vegetables (we should aim to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day).

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

Cholesterol is an important subject when thinking about our health. It is an area where we can make a difference to our own health by trying to stick to a healthy diet, doing regular exercise and taking medication where necessary. However, don't forget that life is for living and it's OK to have the odd treat now and again (after all, we don't want to put the local chippy out of business!!).

Kate Kerr, GP Registrar, Harvey Practice, Merley

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