Cholesterol levels are affected by many factors – gene mutations, age, gender, diet, smoking, coffee drinking, stress, exercise and oestrogen levels. To help control cholesterol levels avoid fatty meals, processed foods, fried foods, butter, cream and hard cheeses. Replace saturated fats by using olive/sunflower oils for cooking, remove fat before cooking meat, and eat sardines and salmon twice a week. Avoid foods high in free sugars, no more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day for men and 1 for women. Restrict salt intake to less than 5g daily, do at least 30 minutes of brisk aerobic exercise per day.

When lifestyle changes and diet are not enough to bring cholesterol levels down, Statins are the agents of 1st choice. They reduce the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver. A small number of people experience muscle pain on statins and should report this to their doctor. Simvastatin should be taken at bedtime, Atorvastatin and Crestor may be taken at any time of day. Other agents used include Ezetimbe which inhibits the intestinal uptake of cholesterol. Niacin or nicotinic acid is an over the counter preparation that reduces the bad cholesterol and increases the good cholesterol but causes uncomfortable flushing. Fibrates lower triglyceride levels & cholestyramine binds with the bile in the intestine. Many of these aganets can be used in combination.

We offer a finger prick cholesterol test in our Clinic. Where a measurement is high (>5mmol/l) the patient will be counselled on lifestyle intervention and referred to a doctor for a full lipogram.

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