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Written by Amirah Halwani binti Abu Sujak, Pharmacist

Cholesterol is a fatty substance naturally produced by the liver. It is vital  to build healthy cells, producing hormones and vitamin D and produce substances that help to digest food. It can be found in your blood, your body’s cells and also available in your daily food.

Type of Cholesterol 3

 

Lipoproteins is a carrier that helps to transport cholesterol and triglycerides (another type of lipid) in the blood. There are two types of cholesterol:

  • low-density lipoprotein (LDL),
  • high-density lipoprotein (HDL),

The lower the density of the lipoproteins the more fats it contains. LDL cholesterol is called the ‘bad cholesterol’ because it is the main source of cholesterol build-up and blockage in the arteries. HDL cholesterol is also known as  “good” cholesterol because it helps to keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries.

Statistics in Malaysia 4

 

On 17 July 2019, from The Star Online, Dr Lee Boon Chye, Deputy Health Minister said that 47.7% Malaysians had high cholesterol with 22% being between 18 and 19 years old according to Health and Morbidity Survey conducted in 2015.

Causes of High Cholesterol 5,7

 

High cholesterol can be due to genetic inheritance, but it’s often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices.

 

  • High intake of saturated fats/ trans fat, can increase LDL level
  • Sedentary lifestyle is linked with lower HDL level
  • Smoking lower HDL level and increase LDL level

 

Symptoms1

 

High cholesterol has no symptoms. The only way to detect it is through a blood test.

Complications 2

However, if the cholesterol level is too high, it will lead to blockage in your arteries, which may lead to a condition known as hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This can cause the narrowing of arteries and make it harder for blood to flow through them. This may lead to problems in the future such as chest pain, strokes and heart attacks.

Prevention 1,2,6

 

Unhealthy lifestyle choices are preventable and treatable. To prevent and control high cholesterol level, you can adopt the following changes in your daily life:

  • Practicing a healthy diet.
  • Choose extra virgin olive oil when cooking instead of butter.
  • Replace french fries or processed snack foods with wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
  • Consuming a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Manage stress.
  • Taking statin medication as prescribed by your doctor.

References

  1. Elaine, L. (2018) Everything You Need To Know About High Cholesterol [online] Healthline. Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/high-cholesterol (Accessed 15 January 2020).
  2. High Blood Cholesterol [online] National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Available at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/high-blood-cholesterol (Accessed 23 January 2020).
  3. High Cholesterol [online] Heart Foundation. Available at https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/blood-cholesterol (Accessed on 12 February 2020).
  4. Martin, C.  (2019) Almost Half The Adult Malaysian Population Have High Cholesterol, Warns Deputy Health Minister [online] The Star. Available at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/07/17/almost-half-the-adult-malaysian-population-have-high-cholesterol-warns-deputy-health-minister (Accessed on 12 February 2020).
  5. Markus, M. (2019) What Causes High Cholesterol? [online] Medical News Today. Available at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9152.php (Accessed on 22 February 2020).
  6. National Cholesterol Education Program. ATP III Guidelines At A Glance Quick Desk Reference [online] National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Available at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/atglance.pdf (Accessed on 22 February 2020).
  7. High Cholesterol-Symptoms and Causes [online] Mayo Clinic. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/symptoms-causes/syc-20350800 (Accessed on 28 February 2020).
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