London: One in six young adults now suffers from high cholesterol, a study has revealed. This causes fatty deposits to block up the arteries and can lead to heart disease. The survey of 1,500 adults also found one in five people who know they have the condition are not doing anything about it. Meanwhile, a third of the population is in the dark about their cholesterol level as they have never been tested.
The study was timed to coincide with the start of the UK’s first cholesterol awareness week. Jules Payne, CEO of Heart UK, said: ‘People are dicing with death by not taking action and making changes to their diet and lifestyle after testing positive for high cholesterol. Your ideal cholesterol level will depend on your risk for heart disease.
High Cholesterol Signs and Symptoms
‘There is still a lot of work to be done in improving the nation’s knowledge about cholesterol and also eradicating many misconceptions. ‘Even if you are fit, young, and healthy and you don’t think you are at risk we would urge everyone to get their cholesterol checked – it can be a silent killer with few visible symptoms.’
High cholesterol is one symptom of the obesity epidemic in Britain. The latest figures have revealed that 32 percent of women and 42 percent of men are overweight.
Around one in five people who have been tested say they have high cholesterol, with the highest rate amongst those aged 45 and above. However, an increasing number of young people (26 -35-year-olds) are affected, with one in six saying they have high cholesterol.
Londoners think they are the least at risk from high cholesterol as they believe they have the healthiest lifestyles. Half of those surveyed in Northern Ireland admitted they have high cholesterol with the North West a close second with 1 in 3 people.
The research also revealed a general lack of understanding about what cholesterol actually is; only 14 percent correctly identified HDL as the ‘good’ variety as opposed to LDL which is the ‘bad’. Nearly two-thirds of UK adults admitted they had no idea of the difference between the two.
There are also some common misconceptions about cholesterol with over a third of people believing high cholesterol causes obesity while one in ten thinks depression causes high cholesterol.
Women are more aware than men high cholesterol can run in the family however two-thirds of people say they have no idea about the cholesterol levels of their immediate family members. The study was commissioned by Kellogg’s Optivita, to support the awareness week that runs from September 13 – 19, 2010.
Symptoms of high cholesterol:
Often, there are no specific symptoms of high cholesterol. You could have high cholesterol and not know it. If you have high cholesterol, your body may store the extra cholesterol in your arteries. These are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. A buildup of cholesterol in your arteries is known as plaque.
Over time, plaque can become hard and make your arteries narrow. Large deposits of plaque can completely block an artery. Cholesterol plaques can also break apart, leading to the formation of a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood. A blocked artery to the heart can cause a heart attack. A blocked artery to your brain can cause a stroke.
Many people don’t discover that they have high cholesterol until they suffer one of these life-threatening events. Some people find out through routine check-ups that include blood tests.