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What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance called a lipid that is essential for good health. Knowing and understanding your cholesterol level is important because too much cholesterol can cause health problems.1

What is Cholesterol?

Get a Better Understanding

Cholesterol is an important part of our cells and is a building block for hormones, vitamins and other important substances. It is mainly made by the liver but is also found in some foods. When our bodies make cholesterol or we eat food containing cholesterol, it travels in the blood attached to proteins, forming lipoproteins.1

There are harmful and protective lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein (also called LDL cholesterol or LDL-C for short) is harmful and often called ‘bad cholesterol’. Why is this? Too much LDL-C in the blood can lead to atherosclerosis – a build-up of fats, cholesterol and other substances in artery walls that are called plaques, and this can lead to angina, heart attack, and stroke.1

Six out of every ten UK adults have high cholesterol levels.2 It is important to have your cholesterol level tested and if it is high, speak with your doctor about ways to lower your cholesterol level.  

Speak to your doctor about your cholesterol level

Your cholesterol level may be tested to see whether it is too high

Your doctor will tell you if it is too high and give you advice to help reduce it

It is important for your health to achieve an acceptable cholesterol level

Treatments are available if your cholesterol level is too high

The higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk for developing heart and vascular disease such as a heart attack.1

The more you know now, the better prepared you will be to reduce your cholesterol level. Find out more about the different types of cholesterol next. 



This video explains good and bad cholesterol and how it’s used by the body. In particular, the video looks at how LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and also explains the types of treatment available to help manage high cholesterol levels including statins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, bile acid sequestrants and PCSK9 inhibitors.

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. Heart UK. Cholesterol tests – know your number.  Available at: http://heartuk.org.uk/health-and-high-cholesterol/cholesterol-tests---know-your-number  [Last accessed 27 February 2017]