Cholesterol and Hypertension
- An introduction to Cholesterol and Hypertension
- Audio Interviews and Stories about Cholesterol and Hypertension
- Some of the Experts you can hear in this section
- Contact Details
An introduction to Cholesterol and Hypertension
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat (lipid) we make in our own bodies. It’s vital for the normal functioning of our bodies and is present in every cell. But, if the level is too high, cholesterol can cause narrowing of the arteries and increase your chance of having angina, a heart attack or a stroke. If you have high cholesterol AND hypertension these risks are increased further.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is high blood pressure. It’s usually defined as being a sustained blood pressure measurement of 140/90mmHg or above. With high blood pressure your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. It puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and is a major cause of heart disease and strokes. It can also cause kidney disease, eye problems and some kinds of dementia.
- The government recommends a target level for cholesterol of less than 5 mml/litre
- Two out of every three adults have a level of 5 or more
- 40% of adults in England have high blood pressure
- Nearly half of deaths from coronary heart disease in the UK are due to raised cholesterol
- Strokes are the biggest cause of adult disability
What You’ll Find Out Here
Having high cholesterol or high blood pressure increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. High blood pressure can cause other problems as well. These pages explain what causes high cholesterol and hypertension and why both need to be controlled. You can discover whether you’re at risk and how you can reduce your levels through simple changes to your lifestyle. You’ll find out what your numbers should be, whether you should have a test and where to get one. Get the low-down on Statins and ACE inhibitors. Doctors, nurses and dietitians will guide you through the medicines and other treatments you might be prescribed. There’s an extended section on food and exercise and a mass of tips on how you can safely and easily bring down your levels of both cholesterol and blood pressure.
Click on the chapters below to listen to the interviews
Chapter 1 - An Introduction
Understanding what high cholesterol and high blood pressure can do to your body will help convince you that it’s worth keeping these two under control. On this website we’ve been speaking to the leading national and local experts on cholesterol and hypertension. Here is a flavour of what you’ll discover if you listen to the pieces on this site.
Chapter 2 - What Is Cholesterol?
With Dr. Edel Casey, Dr. Michael Mead, Dawn Gough, June Davison
Cholesterol is a fat (called a lipid). It’s made in the body from some of the foods we eat. Your body needs cholesterol to work properly but too much can lead to heart disease and stroke. The government recommends a target level of less than 5 mml/litre. Do you know your level? And did you know that there are two sorts of cholesterol?
Chapter 3 - Why Is High Cholesterol A Problem?
With Dr. Andrew Arhcbold; Dr. Charles Knight, Prof. Mark Caulfield; Dr. Alan Rees
High cholesterol is not a disease in itself. But if the body has too much it can deposit in the walls of arteries, making them narrower. That can lead to angina, heart attacks and strokes. Combined with smoking and high blood pressure, the risk is greatly increased.
(For more information about the complications of high cholesterol see our pages on Cardiovascular Disease)
Chapter 4 - A Little Bit Of History
With Dr. Alan Rees
Why does Japan have a lower level of cholesterol than the UK? How did they find out that cholesterol increases our risk of heart disease?
Chapter 5 - What Causes High Cholesterol?
With Dr. Alan Rees, Prof. Mark Caulfield, Prof. Graham MacGregor, Dr. Michael Mead, Dr. Charles Knight
It can be inherited as in Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH). But most often it’s down to you, your diet and your lifestyle. Alcohol, smoking and being overweight can all play a part. Find out if the way you live is affecting your cholesterol level.
Chapter 6 - Know Your Number
With Dr. Andrew Archbold, Prof. Mark Caulfield, Prof. Graham MacGregor, June Davison, Dawn Gough, Dr. Michael Mead
The government recommends your total cholesterol level should be under 5 mmol/litre. But whether you receive treatment will depend on factors such as your age and weight and your medical history. If you’re over 40 and have never had a test, you should have one now.
Chapter 7 - Medicines To Lower Cholesterol
With Dr. Charles Knight, Dr. Andrew Archbold, Prof. Mark Caulfield, Dr. Alan Rees, Dr. Michael Mead
The first line of treatment for high cholesterol will usually mean making some changes to what you eat (low fat) and making sure you keep active. If your level does not drop enough you’ll probably be prescribed a type of cholesterol-lowering medication. Statins reduce the amount of cholesterol you body produces.
Chapter 8 - What Is High Blood Pressure?
With Dr. Michael Mead, Dr. Charles Knight, Prof. Graham MacGregor, Prof. Mark Caulfield, Dr. Andrew Archbold
The British Heart Foundation recommends that your blood pressure level should be below 140/85 mmHg. But you should talk to your doctor about what is an appropriate level for you. If your blood pressure is too high you increase your chances of having a stroke or heart attack. 40% of adults in England have high blood pressure. Here’s a guide to the numbers.
Chapter 9 - Why Is High Blood Pressure A Problem?
With Dr. Michael Mead, Dr. Charles Knight, Prof. Graham MacGregor, Prof. Mark Caulfield, Dr. Andrew Archbold
If you have high blood pressure your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. This can weaken your heart and, because of the increased pressure, damage your arteries. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or a stroke. It can also cause problems with your eyes and kidneys.
(For more information on the complications of high blood pressure see our pages on Cardiovascular Disease)
Chapter 10 - Can You Feel High Blood Pressure?
With Prof. Graham Macgregor, Dr. Andrew Deaner, Dr. Michael Mead, Dr. Charles Knight
Hypertension doesn’t usually have symptoms. It’s sometimes called the “silent killer”.
Chapter 11 - What Causes High Blood Pressure?
With Prof. Mark Caulfield, Dawn Gough, Prof. Graham MacGregor
The exact cause is not known but there’s strong evidence that there are several risk factors. They include smoking, obesity, drinking too much alcohol, having a family history, not taking enough exercise and eating too much salt.
Chapter 12 - Know Your Number
With Prof. Mark Caulfield, Prof. Graham MacGregor, Dr. Michael Mead
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure you should have it checked regularly. You can go to the doctor or do it at home.
Chapter 13 - Medicines To Lower Blood Pressure
With Dr. Charles Knight, Prof. Graham MacGregor, Dr. Andrew Archbold, Dr. Andrew Deaner, Dr. J. John
Treatment for high blood pressure will depend on your blood pressure levels and also on your risk of heart disease or stroke. There are several classes of drug and you’ll probably be prescribed more than one. Your doctor will decide at what level you need medication and what combination of pills you need. Here’s a brief guide to some of the names you might come across and some tips about how to take them.
Chapter 14 - What You Can Do About It
With Prof. Mark Caulfield, June Davison, Johanna Bates, Dr. Michael Mead
There are some simple changes you can make to your diet and your lifestyle that are known to reduce your cholesterol and you blood pressure. Sometimes it can feel hard to get started but the changes aren’t that hard. Here’s a short introduction to some of them. There’s more detail in the following chapters.
Chapter 15 - Eating The Right Stuff – A Beginner’s Guide
With Joy Black, Johanna Bates, Dawn Gough, Prof. Mark Caulfield, Dr. Michael Mead
The headlines here are low fat, low salt and plenty of fruit and vegetables. But it ain’t just what you eat, it’s the way that you eat it – that’s what gets results. As they say. Your doctor or practice nurse will have information about what’s good and what’s not. There’s a mass of information on the internet and you can find some of the best listed in the section on useful contacts and links. Here’s something to get you started.
Chapter 16 - Salt And High Blood Pressure
With Prof. Mark Caulfield, Prof. Graham MacGregor, Joy Black Johanna Bates, Dr. Charles Knight
Salt is a major risk factor for raised blood pressure and therefore increases your chance of having a heart attack and especially a stroke. Most of us eat too much of it, often without knowing, because it comes in processed food. If your blood pressure is too high your doctor will certainly tell you to eat less salt. Here are some valuable tips.
Chapter 17 - The Facts About Fat
With Prof. Graham MacGregor, Johanna Bates, Joy Black, June Davison, Prof. Mark Caulfield
Not all fat is bad. But what’s called “saturated” fat can raise your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. Find out what saturated fat is and try to avoid it where possible. Some fat is sometimes described as “good fat”. This is unsaturated fat and some of these can reduce your cholesterol level. Here’s a rough guide to the good, the bad and the ugly.
Chapter 18 - Fruit And Vegetables
With Dr. Alan Rees, Prof. Mark Caulfield, Prof. Graham MacGregor, Joy Black, Johanna Bates
Government guidelines say we should eat five portions a day. Not necessarily as easy as it sounds. Listen here for some advice on how to build fruit and veg into your day. Not sure what a “portion” is? Find that out here as well.
Chapter 19 - Learn About Food Labels
With Johanna Bates
Ever have trouble figuring out what food labels actually mean? Sometimes they’re confusing and sometimes misleading. Knowing what to look for and making sense of labels is a useful skill if you’re trying to control you cholesterol or your blood pressure. Find out how to read labels properly with Barking and Dagenham dietitian Johanna Bates.
Chapter 20 - Getting Active
With Dawn Gough, Mari Fantocchi, Joy Black, Dr. Alan Rees, Dr. Michael Mead
There’s no escaping it. A bit of exercise can lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure. It can reduce your chance of having a heart attack or a stroke. It can make you look better, feel better, even get a better job.
Chapter 21 - How To Exercise Safely
With Mari Fantocchi
Make sure you warm up and cool down. Don’t overdo it. And learn what to do if you feel chest pain while you’re exercising.
Chapter 22 - Exercise You Never Thought Was Exercise
It’s not all about joining a gym or playing organised sports. You can build exercise into your everyday routine if you know what to look for. Here are some useful tips to get you started.
Chapter 23 - If You Remember Nothing Else...
Some top tips from our experts to keep your cholesterol and blood pressure under control.
Some of the Experts you can hear in this section
Dr. Charles Knight
Consultant Cardiologist King George Hospital and London Chest Hospital. Head of Cardiology at Barts and the London NHS Trust. Former Clinical Lead for North East London Cardiac and Stroke Network.
Dr. Andrew Deaner
Consultant Cardiologist at King George Hospital and the London Chest Hospital and Honorary President of King of Hearts Cardiac Support Group. Clinical Lead for Barking, Havering and Redbridge Trust.
Dr. Andrew Archbold
Consultant cardiologist, London Chest Hospital. Clinical Lead for North East London Cardiac and Stroke Network
Professor Graham MacGregor
Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Honorary Consultant Physician in the Blood Pressure unit at St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London; Chairman of the Blood Pressure Association
Professor Mark Caulfield
Runs the High Blood Pressure Service at Barts and the London School of Medicine. Vice President of the British Hypertension Society.0
Dr. Michael Mead
GP in Leicester; Medical Advisor to the Blood Pressure Association
Senior Physiotherapist in Cardiac Rehabilitation at Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust based at King George Hospital
Manages Cardiac rehabilitation Service for Barking Havering and Redbridge, based at King George and Queen’s Hospitals
Registered Dietitian, Barking and Dagenham
Cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation
Dr. Edel Casey
Consultant Diabetologist, King George Hospital
Dr. Alan Rees
Chairman of HEART UK - (“The Cholesterol Charity”); Consultant physician and diabetologist at University Hospital of Wales.
- National Heart Forum
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- National Obesity Forum
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- Heart UK
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- BPA Information Line
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- British Hypertension Society
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- Blood Pressure Association
- British Heart Foundation
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- The Stroke Association
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- Heart UK Helpline
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- Stroke Helpline
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