National Cholesterol Month

October is national cholesterol month and is dedicated to raising awareness of cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance made in the liver and it plays a vital role in how all of our cells work. There is cholesterol in every cell in your body, it is involved in making vitamin D and some hormones. Some of the cholesterol comes from the food we eat but about 80% is made in the liver. 

High cholesterol is when you have too much cholesterol in your body, having high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.

Cholesterol and diabetes

Having high blood glucose levels can cause your blood to become sticky, the lining of your blood vessels can also become sticky. When you have sticky blood, cholesterol can stick to the lining building up and forming a clump. This clump can stop the blood following through the blood vessels, meaning blockages can form, if this happens the blood can’t flow to where it is needed e.g. your heart, this causes heart disease. You can watch a short video which explains this in more detail below:

It is important when you have diabetes to have your cholesterol levels checked every year, it is one of your 15 healthcare essentials, a set of guidance to highlight what care measures a person with diabetes is entitled to. You can register with Diabetes My Way to access your GP diabetes record where you can view which of the healthcare essentials you have received. Find out more on how to register here. 

How can I lower my cholesterol levels?

  • Exercise – aim for at least 30 mins of moderate activity per day find out more here
  • Stop smoking – you can find out more about local support for quitting smoking here
  • Maintain a healthy weight – visit the Better Health website for more information
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet - including more vegetables, nuts, oily fish and wholegrains
  • Medication – you may be offered medication to treat your high cholesterol, statins are the main type of medication sued to reduce cholesterol.

Where can I find more information?

British Heart Foundation website contains lots of information on heart conditions and cholesterol.

Diabetes UK website contains specific information on cholesterol and diabetes.