Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the body, which at high levels can cause blockages in the blood vessels and increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Further information is available on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-cholesterol
We use a risk calculator called QRISK which takes into account your cholesterol amongst other parameters like age, gender, blood pressure, medications, medical history, height, weight, smoking status and family history to determine your risk.
If your calculated risk of having a major cardiovascular event such as heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years is greater than 10%, it is recommended that you take a medication called a statin to reduce your risk (this information will have been sent in a text message)
Our recommendation would be to start a statin – in most cases this would be Atorvastatin 20mg once daily in the evening. Most people tolerate statin medications well with no side effects. After starting we need to do monitoring blood tests at 3 months to check a good response with your cholesterol levels. Due to an extremely rare but possible side effect with statins, you should contact us if you develop new severe muscle pain after taking them.
If you are happy with this, please complete an eConsult stating you have received a “statin letter”, and we can add the medication to your repeat prescription and issue the prescription. If you wish to discuss further, please state in the eConsult and an appointment will be made with the practice pharmacist.
In addition to a statin, you can further reduce your risk through lifestyle measures. This can also be helpful if you’d prefer not to take a statin at this time and try to reduce your cholesterol without medication in the first instance. We would then recommend repeating your blood tests in 6-12 months, to see if lifestyle changes alone have made a sufficient reduction:
- Stop smoking – smoking can increase “bad cholesterol”, reduce “good cholesterol” and is an additional risk factor for cardiovascular disease. If you would like support in stopping smoking, you can contact Help Me Quit Wales on 0800 085 2219
- Lose weight if you are overweight – more information at https://patient.info/healthy-living/weight-loss-weight-reduction
- Exercise regularly - this also helps to increase your “good cholesterol” – it is recommended to aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, this could be split into 5 lots of 30 minutes or divided into 10 minute chunks. Moderate activity is anything that gets your heart beating a bit faster and makes you a bit out of breath eg. brisk walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, cycling. If 150 minutes seems impossible, it is important to know that every little helps and going from completely inactive to doing just 30 minutes will have the biggest impact on your health. More information is available here: https://patient.info/healthy-living/physical-activity-for-health
- Eat a healthy diet – you can help to lower your cholesterol by reducing the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat; choosing lean cuts of meat, low fat or fat free dairy products; reducing consumption of fast food and processed foods; cooking with olive oil/vegetable oil rather than butter or lard; eating more fish; and increasing your fibre intake through fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and wholegrain foods. Further information on the “Mediterranean diet” which research has proven to reduce cholesterol and cardiovascular risk is available here: https://patient.info/heart-health/cardiovascular-disease-atheroma/mediterranean-diet
Bridgend Group Practice