“Dr Irena’s” Health Tips – No. 4
We recently had contact with a retired UK doctor who now lives in North Cyprus and met her at Kamiloglu Hospital – Kyrenia Medical Centre where she was looking after reception/patient liaison along with other English speaking people who are giving their time to ensure a good medical service for English speaking expatriates.
Irena kindly offered to write some articles about basic health issues which may be of interest to our readers.
By Irena Hulson
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body and is made by the liver. Cholesterol also is present in foods we eat. People need cholesterol for the body to function normally. Cholesterol is present in the cell walls or membranes everywhere in the body, including the brain, nerves, muscles, skin, liver, intestines, and heart.
Why Should I Be Concerned About Cholesterol?
Too much cholesterol in your body means that you have an increased risk of getting cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease. If you have too much cholesterol in your body, the cholesterol can build up on the walls of the arteries that carry blood to your heart. This build-up, which occurs over time, causes less blood and oxygen to get to your heart. This can cause chest pain and heart attacks.
What’s the Difference between “Good” and “Bad” Cholesterol?
HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol is known as good cholesterol. HDL takes the bad cholesterol out of your blood and keeps it from building up in your arteries. LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is known as bad cholesterol because it can build up on the walls of your arteries and increase your chances of getting cardiovascular disease. When being tested for high cholesterol, you want a high HDL number and a low LDL number.
A high level of LDL, the bad cholesterol, is the biggest threat to your heart — although the other numbers are important, too. Bad cholesterol can clog your arteries and lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Lower tends to be better for LDL, though your personal goal depends on your heart risk. Diabetes, middle age, or family heart troubles can all raise your risk. Aim for these LDL levels:
• Below 130 mg/dL for most people
• Below 100 if you’re at risk of heart disease
• Below 70 if you’re at very high risk
What Makes My Cholesterol Levels Go Up?
Eating foods such as meats, whole milk dairy products, egg yolks, and some kinds of fish can make your cholesterol levels go up. Being overweight can make your bad cholesterol go up and your good cholesterol go down. Also, after women go through the menopause their bad cholesterol levels tend to go up.
Total Cholesterol Category
Less than 200 Desirable
200-239 Borderline High
240 and above High
LDL Cholesterol LDL – Cholesterol Category
Less than 100 Optimal
100-129 Near optimal/above optimal
130-159 Borderline high
190 and above Very high
HDL (good) cholesterol protects against heart disease, so for HDL, higher numbers are better. A level less than 40 is low and is considered a major risk factor because it increases your risk for developing heart disease. HDL levels of 60 or more help to lower your risk for heart disease.
Triglyceride levels that are borderline high (150-199) or high (200 or more) may require treatment in some people.
The opinions, advice or proposals within the article are purely those of the author and do not, in any way, represent those of Cyprusscene.com