New Cholesterol Guidelines

Do I need to take a cholesterol pill? What are the side effects of cholesterol pills?

Recently new guidelines have come out for the treatment of cholesterol.

What is cholesterol. The ‘sterol’ in the word cholesterol is similar to steroids or hormones. In fact we all need to have cholesterol as its important in the body’s manufacturing of hormones which helps the body’s organs communicate with each other, and run our bodies. But too much cholesterol can be bad.

Think of cholesterol as a thick sticky fatty substance. It sticks to the sides of the arteries in our body. Blood flows from the heart to the arteries in our body, as well as the heart itself. If these heart arteries get plugged up with cholesterol they can cause poor flow of blood to the heart. This causes the heart to work less efficiently. But more dangerously, sometimes these plaques of cholesterol can loosen or break off, and then you have a sudden blockage of the artery causing a heart attack.

We can reduce our intake of bad cholesterol by reducing our intake of animal fat, and eating more fibre.

Recently there is talk of changes to the guidelines for treating cholesterol. The new guidelines imply that if you are diabetic or have any type of heart disease, that you should be on a statin. A statin is a drug that uses the liver to get rid of more cholesterol. The stronger the dose of the statin the stronger it makes the liver work, and that is why Doctors monitor liver enzymes when prescribing cholesterol lowering agents. What’s interesting here, is that regardless of what your current cholesterol level is, if you are diabetic, you need to be on a statin. This means that even children who are diabetic will need to discuss with their doctors the role of Statins in their treatment. These guidelines are easier to follow, and will likely mean the number of people taking statins will double.

When should someone check for cholesterol?

Men should check their cholesterol levels at 40, and women should start at the age of 50. Check it earlier if there is a family history of heart disease in the family.

Treating cholesterol can play a big role in reducing the incidence of heart disease. Consult with your doctor about the role of cholesterol in your health care.