Cholesterol is a lipid (fat) molecule which is essential for animal life, and is synthesised by every cell in the body. It is an essential component of the cell membrane, and is the precursor for many hormones, including testosterone and oestrogen. The amount of cholesterol in the diet has little bearing on cholesterol levels in the blood. High levels of “bad” cholesterol are associated with deposition in the walls of arteries, and the development of coronary artery disease and other vascular conditions.

Low density lipoprotein (LDL) = “bad” cholesterol

High density lipoprotein (HDL) = “good” cholesterol

The concentration of LDL cholesterol in the blood is proportional to your risk of developing heart disease, while HDL cholesterol is protective.

LDL is raised by:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Diet
  • Kidney disease
  • Genetic factors

LDL can be lowered by:

  • Weight loss
  • Exercise
  • Dietary changes
  • Medication (including the statins)

Cholesterol targets

  • LDL < 2.5, or < 1.8 if previous heart disease/ high risk
  • HDL > 1.0