High Cholesterol
Cholesterol, which is known as a lipid, is a substance that is found in your body and in certain foods. In the right levels, it keeps your body functioning in a healthy and normal way. However, if you have an excessively high level of these lipids, it can lead to serious health conditions such as a heart attack or stroke. There are various medicines, such as statins, available to help maintain a healthy cholesterol level. Browse our range of high cholesterol medications below.

High Cholesterol

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  1. Buy Fluvastatin 20mg & 40mg High Cholesterol tablets from Medicine Direct UK Online Pharmacy
    From As low as £15.99
    • Lowers Cholesterol
    • Reduces the amount of bad cholesterol produced by the Liver
    • Can help to reduce the risk of stokes, heart attacks and heart disease
  2. Buy Pravastatin tablets for high cholesterol from Medicine Direct UK Online pharmacy
    From As low as £12.99
    • Decreases the bodies bad cholesterol levels whilst increasing good cholesterol levels
    • Very effective in treating high cholesterol
    • Lowers the risk of more serious issues such as stokes, heart attacks and heart disease
  3. Buy Simvastatin High Cholesterol Tablets from Medicine Direct UK Online Pharmacy
    From As low as £12.99
    • Lowers the bodies production of bad cholesterol
    • Lowers the risk of heart problems such as heart disease, heart attacks as well as strokes
    • Lipid-lowering medication that belongs to the statins class of drugs
  4. Buy Atorvastatin High cholesterol tablets from Medicine Direct UK Online Pharmacy
    Atorvastatin Tablets
    From As low as £14.99
    • Significantly lowers bad cholesterol compared to other statins
    • Works by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase responsible for creating "bad" cholesterol
    • Can be used to prevent Heart Disease, Strokes or a Heart Attacks

What is High Cholesterol?

Cholesterol, which is known as a lipid, is a substance that is found in your body and in certain foods. In the right levels, it keeps your body functioning in a healthy and normal way. However, if you have an excessively high level of these lipids, it can lead to serious health conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.

What is High Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a substance that is found in two different places. The first is the body, where it is made mainly by the liver and is vital to keep your body functioning in a healthy and normal way. Cholesterol can also be found in certain foods.

The substance, which is fatty and waxy, is also known as a lipid. If you have an excessively high level of these lipids, it is bad for your health and you have what is called high cholesterol. This excess of cholesterol, which lives in your blood, clogs up your arteries and makes it harder for blood to pump around your body and reach vital organs such as your heart. Blood clots can also form, which can cut off the blood flow or break away and become lodged elsewhere, causing a stroke or heart attack.

High cholesterol can also lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, angina, mini-strokes (TIAs), vascular dementia and peripheral arterial disease (PADs).

What age can cholesterol start building up in arteries?

Age is a major factor in cholesterol building up in the arteries. By the time humans are 40 years old, around 50% of us will suffer from cholesterol in the arteries. Men over the age of 45 may suffer from significant plaque build-up, while women are more likely to have it when they are over the age of 55.

If you smoke, have a high-fat diet, drink excessively or do not get enough exercise, this problem is even more likely to occur.


High Cholesterol Symptoms and Warning Signs

High cholesterol does not cause any symptoms, so there is no physical way of knowing that the amount of cholesterol you have is above normal. You will only find out if you have this problem by having a blood test.

Causes of High Cholesterol

There are a number of factors that can lead to increased levels of cholesterol in the body. As a high level of cholesterol can lead to a number of other very serious medical conditions such as heart attacks and strokes, it is essential to identify the possible causes of a high cholesterol level.

  • Lifestyle and diet choices are possibly the two biggest causes of high cholesterol; this includes eating unhealthy foods, particularly those that are high in saturated fats
  • Smoking, which can cause narrowing of the arteries
  • Having diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Genetics – a family history of high cholesterol will also increase your risks of developing it

How is High Cholesterol Diagnosed?

There are no physical symptoms of high cholesterol. You can only find out if you have a high amount of cholesterol by having a blood test.

Your GP may suggest you have a blood test if they think your cholesterol levels could be high. They may suggest testing your cholesterol levels because of your weight, age or any other conditions you already have like diabetes or high blood pressure.

You should ask your GP for a cholesterol test if you have never been tested before and are over 40 years old and/or overweight. If high cholesterol and heart problems run in your family, you should also be tested for high cholesterol

Testing for high cholesterol

There are two different methods of testing cholesterol:

  • A blood test, which will involve taking blood from your arm with a needle. This is sent away to check your cholesterol level. The results normally take a few days to come back.
  • A finger-prick test, which is done by pricking your finger and placing a drop of blood onto a strip of paper. This blood is put into a machine to check your cholesterol in just a few minutes. This can also help to spot early symptoms of diabetes and heart disease.

If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, you will receive advice on how to bring it down by a doctor or nurse. Changing your diet and taking certain tablets like statins may also be recommended.

High Cholesterol Treatment

If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, the first step is to make changes to your diet and lifestyle. You will need to exercise more often, stop drinking excessively, stop smoking altogether and eat healthier foods. High cholesterol foods include those high in saturated fat, including fatty meats or meat products, butter, lard, cream, cheese and sugar. These should be replaced with healthier foods like fruit and vegetables. However, if after a few months your levels haven’t reduced to a lower level, you may need high cholesterol medication.

Statins block a type of chemical called an enzyme, which makes cholesterol. Once blocked, the level of cholesterol in your blood goes down. Some people are intolerant to statins, suffering side effects like headaches and stomach problems. Statins must be taken for life, as cholesterol levels will rise once again after the medication is stopped. For that reason, statins are only prescribed to people with a high risk of heart disease.

Aspirin is sometimes prescribed to people over the age of 40 to stop blood clots forming. These are prescribed in low, daily doses.

Ezetimibe is an alternative high cholesterol treatment to statins. Cholesterol is absorbed from your intestines, where your food and bile juices are, and into your blood. Ezetimibe works by blocking this absorption. You can take this medication alone, or alongside a statin. While it rarely causes side effects on its own, it is not believed to be as effective as a statin.

Bile acid sequestrants (resins) or fibrates are other alternatives if the above medications do not suit you. Bile acid sequestrants (resins) medication binds itself to bile acids to stop them from being reabsorbed from the intestines into your blood.

Alternative treatments to lower cholesterol levels?

Medication like statins is an effective method of lowering cholesterol, but for it to be fully beneficial, the patient must also make the decision to commit to healthy lifestyle choices. This is the biggest factor in lowering cholesterol levels.

Steps like stopping smoking, losing weight if you are obese and cutting down on how much alcohol you drink are small sacrifices for the sake of your body’s health.

Becoming more active and ensuring you get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day will also go a long way towards lowering your cholesterol levels. Improve your diet by cutting out fried foods; try microwaving, boiling or steaming foods instead. Replace fatty foods with high-fibre and low-fat alternatives, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, wholemeal bread, muesli and fish that is high in omega-3.

What is a healthy cholesterol level?

You should look to lower your cholesterol to these levels:

  • A total cholesterol level of less than 5 (mmol/L)
  • LDL cholesterol level of less than 3 (mmol/L)
  • HDL cholesterol level of greater than 1 (mmol/L)

'Bad' LDL cholesterol is the most important measurement, which you should always aim to keep below 3 mmol/L (millimoles per litre of blood), even if your total cholesterol is above the limits.

What cholesterol levels are considered to be high?

Your blood cholesterol is measured in units of millimoles per litre of blood (mmol/L). Healthy adults should have a total cholesterol level of 5 mmol/L or below. If you are at risk of developing arterial disease, your cholesterol level should be a total of 4 mmol/L or less. A healthy adult will have an LDL level of a maximum of 3 mmol/L.

If you are considered high risk, your level should be 2 mmol/L or lower. Your ideal HDL cholesterol level should be above 1 mmol/L. You could be at risk of heart disease if your HDL is lower than 1 mmol/L.

Why treat high cholesterol?

If you suffer from high cholesterol, research has proven that you are at a higher risk of a range of serious medical conditions, including heart attacks, strokes, peripheral arterial disease and the narrowing of your arteries.

Cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, which can lead to a restricted blood flow to your brain, heart and the rest of your body, which increases your risk of developing a blood clot.With high cholesterol, you are at a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, which can cause pain in your chest or arm (angina) during physical activity or when you are stressed.

What risk factors increase the chance of having high cholesterol?

Certain lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol, including:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Not taking enough exercise or physical activity

If you have high blood pressure and diabetes, high cholesterol is quite a common affliction to have as well. Kidney or liver disease and an underactive thyroid gland can also increase your risk of high cholesterol.

A number of factors associated with high cholesterol can increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke, including:

  • Your age (there is an increased risk as you get older)
  • Your family's medical history
  • Your gender (men are more likely to develop heart disease than women)

Your ethnicity (people who are Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi or Pakistani are at a higher risk of a heart attack)

How do you choose the right medication for you?

Your doctor will determine the right medication for you to take to help lower your cholesterol after having a blood test.

I’ve read a lot of negative articles about statins in the news, are they as bad as they are made out to be?

Statins are very widely reported on and have gained a relatively poor reputation. Statins are some of the most widely used medicines in the UK. It is considered that the risk of side effects is far outweighed by the benefits they provide those who take them. Statins reduce cholesterol levels, which also lowers your risk of having heart or circulatory problems.

All medicines come with the risk of certain side effects, and statins is no exception. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns before taking statins. Always read the patient information leaflet thoroughly for a comprehensive list of side effects that you may suffer; this will make you aware of any side effects you may need to report to your doctor. You will need to have a blood test every 6-12 months while using statins; this will show how effective they are and if you have suffered any reactions from using them.

What are statins?

Statins are a medication prescribed to lower your cholesterol levels. They work by blocking the enzyme in your liver that produces cholesterol. Over time, this will lower your blood cholesterol level.

How will I know if my statins are working?

You will not feel any different while taking these tablets, but it is important you continue to take the medicine as you will still receive the benefits. To check your cholesterol, your doctor will take a blood test.

Will I need to take statins for the rest of my life?

Statins are a long-term medication that you may need to take for the rest of your life to keep your cholesterol levels low. If you stop taking it, the levels may rise again. However, by making certain lifestyle changes, you may be able to come off statins, or at least take a lower dose. This should only be the case if your doctor says it is safe to stop taking the medication. Do not stop taking your medicine without consulting your doctor.

How long will statins take to work?

It will take several weeks before they start to take effect. Your doctor will monitor your cholesterol and liver function. You will not feel any different while taking this medicine, but it is important you continue taking the tablets.

How often do I need to take statins?

You will normally be instructed to take one tablet a day, usually in the evening.

What should I do if I miss a dose of my statin?

If it is on the same day you should have taken it, take it as soon as you remember. If you don't remember until the next day, skip the dose and continue taking it as usual. Do not take a double dose in an attempt to make up for missing a previous one.

What is the difference between the different types of statins?

There are currently five different types of statins: Atorvastatin (Lipitor), Pravastatin (Lipostat), Rosuvastatin (Crestor), Fluvastatin (Lescol), Simvastatin (Zocor)

What is Ezetimibe?

Ezetimibe is a medication that is commonly prescribed to lower high cholesterol. It works by blocking the absorption of cholesterol, which is normally absorbed into your blood from your intestines. It is generally less effective than statins, but is less likely to cause side effects.

Can I have grapefruit or grapefruit juice with my cholesterol tablets?

You should not drink grapefruit juice while taking simvastatin as it increases the level of simvastatin in your blood, making you more vulnerable to side effects. Atorvastatin also interacts with grapefruit juice when drank in large amounts, although it is safe to drink occasionally.

What is the connection between high cholesterol and heart disease?

High cholesterol puts you at a greater risk of developing heart disease, which makes you more vulnerable to a heart attack and other complications.

Does high cholesterol increase your risk of dementia?

High cholesterol levels are linked to cardiovascular disease. Studies have linked this to a higher risk of dementia.

Can vegetarians have high cholesterol?

Being a vegetarian does not eliminate the risk of high cholesterol, but a vegetarian diet can be very heart-healthy and nutritious. In particular, cutting dairy and meat from your diet is a very effective way of lowering cholesterol.

Are high blood pressure and high cholesterol connected?

High blood pressure is linked to high cholesterol. When your arteries are hardened and narrowed by cholesterol plaque and calcium, your heart has to strain to pump blood through them. This results in your blood pressure increasing.

Doctor Notes

Medicine Direct have an experienced clinical team of doctors, pharmacists and dispensers, all of whom are based in the UK. All are fully trained and qualified to provide appropriate and considered care across all areas of treatment we have available at our online pharmacy.

This means that no matter which member of our team is assigned to your case, you can rest assured that you are in the hands of a highly skilled medical professional, who possesses the compassion and clinical expertise to properly advise you on the best course of treatment.

We are fully regulated

All of our doctors and pharmacists are fully registered with both the General Medical Council (GMC), MHRA and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Each member of our team has also worked in various clinic settings in the past, such as community pharmacies and NHS hospitals.

Sonia Khan Medicine Direct Pharmacist

Sonia Khan
MPharm: 2076091


This content has been written by our Pharmacist Sonia Khan and has been medically reviewed by our Superintendent Pharmacist Hussain Abdeh

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