Cholesterol plays a crucial role in the body, aiding in the formation of cell membranes and the production of hormones. However, when levels become excessively high, it poses significant risks to heart health.

Understanding cholesterol and its impact on the cardiovascular system is essential for maintaining long-term health and preventing potentially serious conditions like heart disease.

What is high cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood, needed to build healthy cells. However, too much of it can lead to various health problems.

High cholesterol can develop due to:

  • Genetic factors
  • Lifestyle choices, such as a diet high in saturated fats and trans fats
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

The usual view is to divide cholesterol into the good one (HDL or high density lipoprotein) and the bad one called LDL (low density lipoprotein). This is what your GP is being asked to monitor and treatment guidance is designed around those tests. Many patients feel that statins may not be the right treatment for them despite having been told they should be on them. Here is where a deeper analysis can help you to understand the cardio-vascular risk posed by your individual in lipid profile. Dr Konrad Grosser is the only Cardiologist in the UK offering a functional medicine based in depth lipid analysis to identify your true cholesterol related risk.

What risks does high cholesterol pose for heart health?

There is no doubt that it is better to have lower levels of LDL than high levels of LDL.

LDL cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition caused by poor vessel health, inflammation leading to the build-up of plaques in the arterial walls. If left to run its course this will lead to hardening (calcifications) of the arteries and obstruction of the blood flow. Plaques can also ‘erupt’ and cause an acute occlusion caused by a blood clot forming on the plaque crater. This blood clot is a natural response aiming at healing the tear in the vessel lining, but when getting out of hand can block the whole vessel and thereby endanger the downstream tissue. If this is in an artery of your heart it will lead to a heart attack, if this is in your brain it may cause a stroke.

Abnormal cholesterol levels seldom exist on their own in an otherwise completely healthy individual and therefore a multifaceted and holistic treatment approach is required for not just treating cholesterol, but also conditions including high blood pressure and insulin resistance or diabetes.

How to manage high cholesterol

You are probably tired of hearing this, but lifestyle is in fact the most important intervention you can do. Dr Grosser will take you through all aspects step by step and you will be given plenty of inspiration and information so you can take control of your health. In some cases there is no doubt that intervention with medication is absolutely needed, but in many cases statins and other drugs could be avoided.

Managing high cholesterol typically combines diet, exercise, and – when needed – medication. Adopting a heart-healthy diet is crucial. Reducing your intake of red meats, full-fat dairy products, and avoiding trans fats can lower LDL cholesterol. Meanwhile, incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts into your diet and using vegetable oils such as olive oil instead of butter can help increase HDL cholesterol.

Engaging in regular zone 2 level exercise is needed to optimise your vascular as well as cardiac health. Konrad recommends you exercise daily, ideally more than 30 minutes at zone 2 level i.e. a level of exercise where you can hold a conversation, but work up a good sweat. This level is safe and allows daily exercise without the need to have days to recover. If you hurt afterwards – you overdid it.

When Konrad has identified the need for medications then he will talk you through all options and you will form a treatment strategy with regular checks to make sure side effects are detected early on. Konrad uses not only the usual medications such as statins, but also more advanced and powerful drugs such as PCSK9 inhibitors.

If you are interested in discovering your true lipid related cardio-vascular health risk simply contact Konrad on 0333 444 1844 and ask his team to book an appointment. After an initial assessment, you will be provided with a personalised management plan to optimise your health, minimise your lipid related risk so you can achieve your health and longevity goals.