Cholesterol is a fatty substance present in all the cells in our body. Although it often receives bad press, we need some cholesterol for certain functions like making hormones.

Why should I get my cholesterol levels checked?

All adults should have their cholesterol levels checked regardless of their age or known health because you may be living with high cholesterol and no nothing about it. Many people with high cholesterol levels are unaware they even have it because it often presents with no symptoms.

Having high cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease or events like heart attacks and strokes.

A major benefit of having a cholesterol check is it can tell you how much of each type of cholesterol you have in your blood. Therefore, it can help you to make changes to your lifestyle, if required, or can show you if particular steps you are taking are improving your levels.

Find if you have healthy cholesterol levels with a simple finger-prick test which can be done at-home and posted to an accredited lab for analysis.

What information will a cholesterol check give me?

A cholesterol check will show you the levels of each type of cholesterol in your blood and whether these are within normal parameters.

Total cholesterol

Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the combined LDL, HDL and other fat components in the blood.

HDL cholesterol

High-density lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the tissues of the body to the liver where it can be removed from the body. HDL cholesterol has a protective effect because by carrying cholesterol to the liver for excretion, it prevents the fat from being deposited in the arteries. So, it is often referred to as good cholesterol.

Fatty deposits on the artery walls lead to a condition called atherosclerosis. These fatty deposits are called plaques and cause your arteries to become narrow which restricts blood flow around the body. Therefore, your oxygen supply is also restricted and this increases the risk of blood clots which cause heart attacks and strokes.

LDL cholesterol

Often referred to as bad cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins carry cholesterol to tissues around the body. It deposits cholesterol in the walls of the arteries, leading to the development of atherosclerosis.

When you hear about high cholesterol, it’s usually LDL cholesterol that’s being referred to. Too much of it in your blood and you are at an increased risk of developing plaques in your artery walls and, at a greater risk of developing several chronic health conditions.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are another type of fat which is stored in your fat cells. Our cholesterol check also measures your triglyceride levels. Increased triglyceride levels in the blood can, like LDL cholesterol, contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. Therefore, it is important to know what your personal levels are.

It is possible to have a high triglyceride level but normal HDL and non-HDL cholesterol levels. Your diet can have a major impact on your triglyceride levels, particularly if you eat a lot of high sugar and/or fatty foods.

What is a normal cholesterol level?

Some checks will only give you your total cholesterol level which makes it difficult to determine how much is good and how much is bad. That’s why at Forth, our cholesterol check breaks down all the different elements of cholesterol:

  • HDL
  • HDL % of cholesterol
  • LDL
  • Total cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

The chart below gives you the target level for each cholesterol reading as well as triglycerides. We have also shown the average readings for customers who have tested with Forth. 

Type

Level

Target Reading

Forth Male Average

Forth Female Average

Total Cholesterol

Healthy range

<5 mmol/L

5.14 mmol/L

5.13 mmol/L

HDL Cholesterol

Healthy range (high)

>1.3 mmol/L

1.43 mmol/L

1.78 mmol/L

LDL Cholesterol

Healthy range

< 3 mmol/L

3.03 mmol/L

2.81 mmol/L

Triglycerides

Normal

< 1.7mmol/L

1.45 mmol/L

1.19 mmol/L

 

If you’d like to check you have healthy cholesterol levels, Forth offers a simple finger-prick blood test which can be done at home.  All samples are analysed at our accredited lab and your results will be available on your online dashboard within 48hr.  It’s an easy and hassle-free way to remain healthy.

Do cholesterol levels differ between men and women?

The genetic make-up of men and women differs which affects their cholesterol levels. Women, for example, have higher levels of HDL cholesterol than men.

However, during pregnancy, a woman’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels rise dramatically. This is because cholesterol is needed as the baby and placenta rapidly grows and develops. Levels usually fall back to near normal 72 hours after birth.

What does a high cholesterol level mean for my health?

High cholesterol can lead to serious health problems if they are left undiagnosed or untreated.

The problem with high cholesterol is you will not normally know you have it. It can affect anyone, even individuals who are slim, eat properly and participate in regular physical activity.

If you have high cholesterol it can lead to the build-up of plaques in your artery walls. These fatty plaques become hard and narrow your arteries making your heart work harder to pump blood around your body.

Another issue with atherosclerosis is blood clots can form around the fatty plaques which can cut the blood supply around the body if they completely block the artery. Or some of the clots can break off and block another area of the body, causing heart attacks and strokes.

If your arteries become clogged and blood can’t travel as freely around your body, you may be more susceptible to developing:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Angina
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Mini strokes (transient ischaemic attacks)
  • Heart failure
  • Vascular dementia
  • Peripheral arterial disease

You can check your cholesterol levels with our cholesterol check. The test is simple and effective, giving you an insight into what’s really going on inside your body.

Find if you have healthy cholesterol levels with a simple finger-prick test which can be done at-home and posted to an accredited lab for analysis.


Sources

Bartels, A. (2011). Cholesterol in Pregnancy: A Review of Knowns and Unknowns. Obstet Med: 4(4), pp 147-151.

British Heart Foundation. (2019). High Cholesterol – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/risk-factors/high-cholesterol?gclid=CjwKCAjw0vTtBRBREiwA3URt7g0LN7MLhV1HK7YKtQMENkvgd_cnw1JHOe9mixAjyFu4QjS3fiXLoxoC7PYQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust Dietitians. (2015). Reducing Your Cholesterol Levels. Available at: http://www.westernsussexhospitals.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Reducing-Your-Blood-Cholesterol-Levels.pdf