High Cholesterol

What is Hyperlipidemia or “High Cholesterol”?

Hyperlipidemia refers to increased levels of lipids (fats) in the blood, including cholesterol and triglycerides. It can significantly increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Cholesterol in our blood comes mainly from our diet and liver production. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is naturally present everywhere in the cell walls or membranes of our body. Our body uses cholesterol to produce hormones, vitamin D and bile acids to help digest fats. However, only a small amount of cholesterol in our blood is required to meet these needs.

As blood is watery, and cholesterol is fatty, the two do not mix. Cholesterol is circulated in the bloodstream in small packages called lipoproteins, which are made of fat (lipid) on the inside and proteins on the outside. These lipoproteins include high-density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as ‘good cholesterol’, and low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as ‘bad cholesterol’.

While a high level of ‘good cholesterol’ can protect our heart, a high level of “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol together, or just ‘bad cholesterol’ can heighten your risk of heart problems and stroke.

High cholesterol levels can be due to a variety of factors including a family history of the condition, diet and lifestyle.

High Cholesterol in Singapore

According to the National Health Survey 2010, 17.4% of the total number of people suffers from Hyperlipidemia. Alarmingly, approximately 1 out of 4 people between the age of 50 – 69 has Hyperlipidemia.

Statistically, males have a higher chance of developing Hyperlipidemia than females, and it is more prevalent in Malays, followed by Chinese and Indians.

Who is likely to develop Hyperlipidemia?

Certain risk factors increase the chance of developing Hyperlipidemia.

 You are at a higher risk if you:

  • are obese
  • are a smoker
  • are male (however, risk increases rapidly in females after menopause)
  • have a family history of coronary heart diseases
  • have a stressful lifestyle
  • are of an advanced age
  • are physically inactive
  • have diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol
  • suffer from conditions such as Diabetes and Hypertension