High cholesterol: Link with heart disease ‘inconsistent’ – symptoms

Dr Chris reveals how eyes can indicate high cholesterol levels

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HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein; this form of cholesterol is the type that provides the health benefits.

LDL meanwhile stands for low-density lipoprotein; this type of cholesterol forms as a plaque in the arteries leading to an increase in blood pressure.

Or does it?

Some scientists are now claiming that cholesterol’s link to blood pressure is “inconsistent”.

Published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine and conducted by the RSCI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, the research suggests the relationship between LDL cholesterol and heart disease is not as strong as originally thought.

New findings suggest that LDL had an inconclusive impact on cardiovascular outcomes.

Dr Paula Byrne said of the research: “The message has long been that lowering your cholesterol will reduce your risk of heart disease, and that statins help achieve this.

“However, our research indicates that, in reality, the benefits of taking statins are varied and quite modest.”

As a result, not only is the theory about low cholesterol increasing the risk of heart disease in doubt, but so too are the efficacy of statins.

Statins are recommended by the NHS as “a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood”.

A review of scientific studies into the effectiveness of statins found around one in every 50 people who take the medicine for five years will avoid a serious event, such as a heart attack or stroke, as a result.

Just like other forms of medicine, statins can come with side effects.

Common side effects include headaches, dizziness, feeling sick, feeling unusually tired or physically weak, constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion, farting, muscle pain, sleep problems, and low platelet count.

Meanwhile, uncommon side effects can occur such as being sick, memory problems, hair loss, pins and needles, hepatitis, pancreatitis, acne, and sexual problems.

The full list of side effects will normally be present on a leaflet that comes with each packet of medication.

If a side effect is experienced, but there isn’t one warned of on the leaflet, there is a way to report it, through the Yellow Card Scheme.

The Yellow Card Scheme was launched in the UK in 1964 as a way for people to report problems with medicinal products.

Once a report has been submitted, the MHRA will then decide whether or not action needs to be taken.

At the height of the pandemic a Covid specific Yellow Card Scheme was set up.

Whether this remains in place is yet to be seen.

For more information on high cholesterol, contact the NHS or consult with your GP.

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