Understanding Cholesterol

Mention cholesterol and what comes to mind is usually heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. For too long, cholesterol has been regarded as bad news, until the recent decades when scientists began telling us about good and bad cholesterol.

The truth is, not all cholesterol is bad.

Cholesterol is actually a much-needed component in the body for the production of hormones and to help the liver get rid of waste products. It is an essential aspect of the immune system and brain function, without which we will have difficulty focusing and remembering things.

85% of cholesterol is produced in our own body in the liver. The rest are derived from the diet, mostly from animal product such as eggs, dairy products and meat.  People who are vegetarian will have lower cholesterol levels because there are minute traces of cholesterol in plants.

The good cholesterol is known as High-density Lipoprotein cholesterol or HDL.

On the other side of the coin is Low-density Lipoprotein cholesterol or LDL, better known as ‘bad’ cholesterol because of its tendency to develop plaque which increases your risks of heart attacks or stroke.


You are at higher risk of getting a heart attack or stroke if you:

–          Have a family history

–          Have high cholesterol levels

–          Have high blood pressure

–          Smoke

–          Have diabetes

–          Overweight

The more risk factors you have, the higher your chances of getting a heart attack. For instance, having high LDL gives you twice the risk compared to someone with normal cholesterol levels.

If you also have high blood pressure, you may be at 2.4 times the risk as someone without either. Add diabetes, and your risk could shoot up to more than 3.9 times that of the average healthy person.


It has taken years for your cholesterol levels to rise, so it will take some time for you to bring your cholesterol to healthy levels again.

The best way to manage your high cholesterol is to adopt a multi-pronged approach which includes a change in diet, adopting an exercise programme and taking cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins.

Cholesterol-lowering medications are clinically-proven to help lower bad cholesterol by 39%-60%, thus lowering your risks of getting a heart attack or stroke.

The five-year landmark Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial Lipid-lowering Arm (ASCOT LLA) conducted in 2006 involving 10,000 patients with hypertension showed a reduction of heart attacks and strokes in patients who were on statins compared to a placebo. The results were presented at the 2006 European Society of Cardiology conference in Stockholm, and published in the September online issue of The Lancet.

The results are further affirmed in the 2007 Collaborative Atorvastatin Diabetes Study (CARDS), which showed that statins lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke in diabetes mellitus patients.

In the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) Collaboration, a meta-analysis of 170,000 participants in over 26 randomised trials that was published in The Lancet in 2010, patients who were on higher doses of newer, more potent statins managed to lower their heart attack risk by half.

Speak to your doctor for a cholesterol-lowering solution today. It may save you from the various complications related to heart attacks or stroke.


  1. Keep your medications in pill boxes to stay organised.
  2. Track your cholesterol levels at each medical check-up to know whether your medications are working.
  3. Always discuss with your doctor whenever a new medication is prescribed and never discontinue a medication without your doctor’s consent.
  4. Never consider your medications to be ‘miracle pills’ to keep you healthy. Exercise and a healthy fibre-rich diet are necessary components to lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

This information is not meant to replace medical advice. Consult your doctor for a detailed assessment of your health condition.

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