Brits are still oblivious to the dangers of high cholesterol

Are you clued up about cholesterol? If not, you are part of potentially a third of the population who are still ignorant when it comes to knowing about what cholesterol is, the dangers of high cholesterol and what factors can put you at high risk of raised cholesterol. It is estimated that every four minutes somebody in the UK suffers a heart attack. Often high cholesterol is a major cause of this, and it seems the UK needs to be more aware of the dangers associated with having raised cholesterol levels.

Therefore as part of ‘National Cholesterol Week’ which is running this week until Friday, The Charity ‘Heart UK’ recently randomly quizzed 455 members of the public during August and September. Almost a third of those who took part were unaware that high cholesterol can be brought on by a bad diet as well as by being inherited through conditions such as familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH).

This is a genetic defect that affects roughly 1 in every 500 of the population and causes them immediately from birth to be lacking in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors, which get rid of cholesterol from our blood. Because these people have high cholesterol from the moment they are born, they are at great risk from vascular diseases and hardening of the arteries, much earlier than normal. For anybody unfortunately who has FH, usually the most effective treatment is through statin therapy (e.g. Lipitor or Crestor). These medications decrease the production of LDL cholesterol by the liver, which in turn decreases LDL cholesterol blood levels by around 50%.

Heart UK says that there are approximately 120,000 people in Britain alone who have familial hypercholesterolaemia and are ‘ticking time bombs’  because they don’t know they actually have the condition that can cause premature death in some people who are just 30 years of age. In fact Heart UK claim that only 15% of these 120,000 sufferers are even aware they have FH .

Another worrying find from the study of the 455 people was the fact that only 38% of participants knew that two-thirds of people have cholesterol above the recommended level of 5mmol/L.  The results from the survey caused Jules Payne, chief executive of Heart UK, to voice his concerns and he said, “More must be done to ensure that everyone in the UK is aware of the risks associated with raised cholesterol. Heart disease is still the biggest killer in the UK and unhealthy cholesterol the greatest modifiable contributor to heart disease.”

The study results have emerged in the same week that scientists based at the University of Rochester Medical Center in America, linked statins to the protection against developing cancer and even in the treatment of tumours.

Cholesterol-busting statins such as the previously mentioned Crestor and Lipitor do not break the bank for patients and are used by roughly seven million Brits.  Statins have been used in countless experiments this year alone as scientists explore their wonderful capabilities in the fight against many different health problems besides high cholesterol.  Their emerging potential has led to calls from doctors for at least everybody over the age of 50 to be prescribed them as a matter of course, due to their abilities to massively reduce to risk of developing a whole range of life-threatening diseases and health conditions.

The researchers at Rochester Medical Center identified a genetic connection between cancer and raised cholesterol levels. The gene they analysed is the ‘ABCA1’ gene, which acts as a barrier preventing tumours from developing or getting bigger, whilst also maintaining cholesterol levels at a low level. The link was established after a defect was noted in a particular ABCA1 gene, which was first known to help regulate cancer-causing genes, and the defect led to the build-up of cholesterol.

Lead researcher Dr Hartmut Land commented on the study findings and said, “Scientifically it is very satisfying to have data that support longstanding ideas about cholesterol in the context of cancer. Our paper provides a rationale for cholesterol targeting as a potentially fruitful approach to cancer intervention or prevention strategies.”

If you want to improve your cholesterol levels, Medical Specialists Pharmacy can help. For suitable patients, we can provide both cholesterol-lowering statin medications Crestor (Rosuvastatin) and Lipitor (Atorvastatin). Along with diet, they lower ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL-C), increase ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL-C), and also slow the progression of atherosclerosis in adults with high cholesterol, as part of a treatment plan to lower cholesterol to goal. We are pleased to inform our patients that we now also offer legal generic Atorvastatin, with prices from as little as just £11.25 per pack.

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