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Consequences of High Cholesterol Levels

Research has shown that the higher the level of LDL-C the greater the risk of coronary heart disease.1

Learn about the potential effects of high LDL cholesterol

Understanding Your Cardiovascular Risks

It’s important to know what you’re up against. 

As LDL-C (bad cholesterol) levels rise, so do your risks for cardiovascular disease, which is related to a process called atherosclerosis — a build-up of fats, cholesterol and other substances in artery walls that are called plaques.1  

A build-up of plaques can disrupt the flow of blood to the heart, brain and other parts of the body leading to angina or a mini-stroke (TIA or transient ischemic attack).  Plaques can rupture or break open and cause a blood clot to form, this can then completely block the artery and in turn lead to a heart attack or stroke.1

The risk of developing cardiovascular disease may also be increased by having other long lasting health concerns like diabetes and hypertension.2

Atherosclerosis can lead to1:

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
CHD is the leading cause of death in the UK, responsible for more than 73,000 deaths each year.3 CHD occurs when the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with oxygen rich blood) become narrowed by a build-up of plaque through a process called atherosclerosis1
Angina
Angina is a term used for chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease which can be due to atherosclerosis.1 
Heart Attack
A heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI for short) is the result of interruption to the blood supply to the heart.1 
Stroke
A stroke is the result of a disturbance of the blood supply to the brain. This happens because an artery is blocked by a blood clot, called an ‘ischaemic’ stroke, or if a blood vessel bleeds in the brain, called a ‘haemorrhagic’ stroke.4

The risk of developing these conditions may also be increased by having other chronic health concerns like diabetes and hypertension.2 

People with diabetes have, on average, a higher level of LDL-C and a lower level of HDL-C than those without diabetes5. This means that people with diabetes are at increased risk of heart disease.2 

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a risk factor for both coronary heart disease and stroke. Hypertension can lead to atherosclerosis and narrowing of the blood vessels, making them more likely to become blocked from blood clots or bits of fatty material breaking off from the lining of the blood vessel walls.6 

Hypertension and high LDL-C are two common and treatable medical conditions that can lead to cardiovascular disease like heart attacks and strokes.7


Check the facts:

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Check the Clock

On average in the UK, somebody attends hospital every 2 minutes for a stroke.8

Flip a coin

Flip a Coin

Around 1 in 2 adults have a high cholesterol level in the UK (level of total cholesterol above 5mmol/L).9

rule

Rule of Thirds

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death accounting for almost a third of deaths in England and Wales.10


References:

  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is Cholesterol. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  2. British Heart Foundation. Reducing your blood cholesterol. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/~/media/files/publications/heart-conditions/his3_0114_reducing-your-blood-cholestero_a6.pdf [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  3. NHS. Coronary heart disease. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Coronary-heart-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What Is a Stroke? Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/stroke [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  5. American Heart Association. Cholesterol Abnormalities & Diabetes. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Diabetes/Cholesterol-Abnormalities-Diabetes_UCM_313868_Article.jsp [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  6. World Heart Federation. Hypertension. Available at: http://www.world-heart-federation.org/cardiovascular-health/cardiovascular-disease-risk-factors/hypertension/ [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  7. CDC. High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/CardiovascularDisease/?s_cid=tw_cdc336 [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  8. British Heart Foundation. Cardiovascular disease statistics 2015. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/publications/statistics/cvd-stats-2015 [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  9. NHS. High cholesterol – Diagnosis. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cholesterol/Pages/Diagnosis.aspx [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  10. NICE. Cardiovascular disease: risk assessment and reduction, including lipid modification. Clinical guidance [CG181]. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg181 [Last accessed 27 February 2017]