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Understanding Cholesterol


Just food for thought:

1) 39.65% of people in the UK have high or borderline high levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).

2) The cost to the NHS for lipid-regulating medications in May 2019 was £16.7m.

3) In May 2019, there were more than 6.5 million prescriptions issued for lipid regulating drugs.

4) Every 8 minutes someone dies in the UK from heart and circulatory disease, the majority dies from coronary heart disease and stroke

5) Strokes cause around 36,000 deaths in the UK each year and are the biggest cause of severe disability.


What is Cholesterol ?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood. It's produced naturally in the liver. Everyone has cholesterol. We need it to stay healthy because every cell in our body uses it. Some of this cholesterol comes from the food we eat.

What is HIGH cholesterol?

High cholesterol is when you have too much cholesterol in your blood. This can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

What are the TYPES of cholesterol?

There are two main types of cholesterol, one good and the other bad. Having too much 'bad' cholesterol can cause problems with your health. Cholesterol is carried in your blood by proteins. When cholesterol and proteins combine, they're called lipoproteins.

High-density lipoproteins or HDL is called ‘good’ cholesterol. This is because it gets rid of the ‘bad’ cholesterol from your blood. It takes cholesterol that you don’t need back to the liver. The liver breaks it down so it can be passed out of your body.

Non-high-density lipoproteins or non-HDL is called 'bad' cholesterol (LDL). This is because when there is too much of it, it can build up inside the walls of the blood vessels. This clogs them up causing narrowing of the arteries which increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

You may have also heard 'bad' cholesterol being called 'LDL' cholesterol. This was previously used as the main measure of bad cholesterol but we now know that other forms of non-HDL cholesterol are also harmful.


Our blood also contains a type of fat called triglycerides. This is stored in the body's fat cells. Being very overweight, eating a lot of fatty and sugary foods or drinking too much alcohol can make you more likely to have a high triglyceride level. Triglycerides can also contribute to the narrowing of the artery walls, increasing your risk. You may see it on your cholesterol reading results, and your doctor will be able to tell you if it's too high.

You can have a normal level of HDL and non-HDL cholesterol but still have a high triglyceride level.

Why is high cholesterol bad for you?

Non-HDL take cholesterol from the liver to the cells around your body. Too much bad cholesterol (non-HDL) can be harmful because it sticks to the inside walls of your arteries. This can lead to fatty material (atheroma) building up - this process is known as atherosclerosis. It makes it harder for blood to flow through, which can lead to a heart attack or a stroke.

If your total cholesterol is high, it can mean that you have a lot of bad (non-HDL) cholesterol in your blood. A high level of good (HDL) cholesterol can help keep that bad cholesterol in check and remove it from your body.

We hope you enjoy this series of posts


Healthy regards

Gustavo Smeha

UFC trainer

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