Many moons ago most people had never heard of it, let alone worried about it but today most of us know that elevated cholesterol levels are unhealthy. In fact, having raised cholesterol is a significant risk factor for heart and circulatory diseases so, it is something that is worth getting checked! Understanding the importance of lowering your cholesterol, if it is raised, is of equal importance.
Too much of a good thing
Our bodies need cholesterol – it forms a vital part of the membranes of many of our cells. But if you have too much of it in your system, it can get laid down on the lining of your arteries as fatty ‘plaques’. These can fur up your arteries, slowing down the blood supply. If one of these plaques breaks open, a blood clot can form around it, potentially stopping the blood flow completely. If the clot is in an artery supplying your heart and your brain, you know what happens.
How is homocysteine related?
Cholesterol is a risk-factor for heart disease and homocysteine has also been implicated as a risk factor in a number of different conditions including heart disease, stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and also infertility.
Homocysteine, like cholesterol, can be measured in blood and high homocysteine levels do highlight an increased risk. Often people don’t know that they have raised homocysteine levels, they might not have symptoms, but if they are raised, it can increase the risk of developing diseases later in life.
YorkTest have developed a homocysteine test that’s really easy to use. You don’t need to go to your doctor. You can collect a finger-prick of blood in the comfort of your own home and post the sample back to our laboratory for analysis.
The results will be analysed and summarised for you and will show whether you have a normal level or a high level of homocysteine, and if you have a high level we can also advise what you can do about it.
Make the change
The good news is that a high homocysteine level can be reduced effectively by making dietary changes and taking supplementation (B Vitamins). These changes can be effective in lowering the homocysteine levels and reducing your risk of developing a number of conditions.
There are also many changes you can make to your lifestyle which will help you reduce your cholesterol in particular. The best thing is, they all add up, and together they can make a major difference:
- Eating a healthy diet with more fruit, vegetables and olive (or rapeseed) oil, more fish and less red meat and high-fat dairy food
- Grilling instead of frying, cutting visible fat off meat and keeping cakes, biscuits, pastries and chocolates for treats
- Exercising regularly
Interested in finding out your Homocysteine levels? Take our simple home-to-laboratory test.