A third of people in the UK who have been diagnosed as suffering from high cholesterol are increasing their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke by neglecting to take their medication.
The finding has prompted a new campaign by the British Heart Foundation to encourage those with high cholesterol to take their drugs and do more to reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol is the main contributor to the nation’s biggest killer – heart and circulatory disease. In 2008 there were over 191,000 deaths in the UK attributed to heart and circulatory disease, including 88,000 from coronary heart disease and a further 43,000 from strokes. More than one in four deaths in men before the age of 75 and one in five deaths in women before the age of 75 are from heart and circulatory disease.
It may not come as a surprise that, as concerns over the nation’s health and growing waistline continue to rise, death rates from coronary heart disease have begun to fall more slowly in younger age groups despite advances in medical treatments and technology.
The prevalence of bad eating habits and diet in the UK, with only around a third of men and woman currently consuming the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, means that statistics for diagnosis of high cholesterol continue to grow.
For most, high cholesterol can be avoided through healthy diet and lifestyle. However, as many as half a million people in the UK, or roughly 1 in every 100, have a form of inherited high cholesterol which requires treatment through medication. It is believed that less than 15% of these have been diagnosed according to the Cholesterol Crisis Report.
The British Heart Foundation wants to remind people of the dangers of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. As there are no symptoms, the campaign aims to emphasise that it is very common for sufferers who are not actively managing their condition to be suddenly struck down by a stroke or heart attack.
As the medications for treating high cholesterol and high blood pressure often do not seem to have any obvious effect, many sufferers seem to dismiss the need for them, placing themselves at greater risk. It is estimated that the cost of coronary heart disease alone to the UK economy is around £2.9bn annually – largely due to an inability to work – and it is believed that, by 2020, heart disease will be the leading cause of disablement in the UK.
All the more reason for sufferers to take action now to reduce their risk, and for the rest of the population to avoid developing high cholesterol or blood pressure by adopting healthier lifestyles.
Author bio : Andrew writes on behalf of Health On Line, a health insurer based in the UK. He has written for a number of health blogs.
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