Sunday, 18 September 2011

What is your cholesterol level? And how could you cut it?

Millions of people in the UK are increasing their risk of heart disease – the UK’s biggest killer – by failing to take simple steps to lower their cholesterol, according to recent research undertaken out by HEART UK, the cholesterol charity, and Hovis Hearty Oats.

The research, which tested people on their knowledge and concerns about high cholesterol, shows that over 40% of respondents wrongly thought raised cholesterol resulted from drinking too much, while nearly 60% did not know that you can inherit the condition.

Almost half the population have never had a cholesterol check and only 2% of those surveyed named high cholesterol as their biggest health concern, even though almost one in ten fear a heart attack, of which high cholesterol is a major contributor. According to the survey, the top health worry for people was cancer, even though heart disease is still the biggest killer in the UK.

HEART UK ambassador, Dr Chris Steele, admitted he felt shocked by the findings. He said: “Raised cholesterol isn’t called the silent killer for nothing and I never cease to be amazed at how few people can be bothered to find out what their cholesterol level is. It is vital people in the UK start to take their cholesterol level seriously and I know, from my own experience, how heart disease can affect your life, whether it is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle or an inherited condition. Simple changes such as adding oats to your diet and cutting back on fried or fatty foods can make such a difference.”

Despite years of high cholesterol health warnings, huge numbers of us have not been tested, are not overly worried about it and don’t know how our diet can help reduce it.

Many people are unaware of the types of foods that could actually help them reduce their cholesterol levels and ultimately help them decrease their risk of complications from conditions such as heart disease and other circulatory disorders.

Only half of all those surveyed correctly identified that oats, being rich in soluble fibre, are an easy and affordable way to lower harmful cholesterol levels.

Staggeringly four of the top five foods thought to have a cholesterol-lowering effect, by members of the public, do not directly lower cholesterol at all and almost a fifth of people had no idea at all of which foods can do so.

HEART UK Chief Executive Jules Payne said: “HEART UK is passionate about helping people with raised cholesterol and the results of this survey underline the challenges we continue to face about the public’s misunderstanding of the condition and the simple changes that can save their life.

“Younger people in particular don’t think that raised cholesterol or heart disease can affect them and sadly we see too many cases of younger people who are afflicted by the condition. National Cholesterol Week gives us an opportunity to remind people that getting their cholesterol level checked may well save their life.”

More than 120,000 people in Britain have a form of inherited high cholesterol called FH which can cause premature death in those as young as 30 with only 15% aware that they have the condition.

HEART UK is the UK's only cholesterol charity and dedicated to providing support for people with inherited and non-inherited high cholesterol. They also work with governing bodies and medical stakeholders to develop better methods of detection and treatment for cholesterol-related conditions.

The research for HEART UK was carried out between August 10 and August 15 2011 and the sample included 1177 UK adults.

Some tips to reduce cholesterol levels:


• Replace animal fats with vegetable fats
• Include two or more slices of 50% oat bread such as Hovis Hearty Oats at breakfast or lunch
• Start the day with a bowl of oat based cereal such as porridge, muesli or instant oats
• Keep a hand full of unsalted almonds, walnuts, pecans or peanuts for snacks
• Eat foods (such as spreads, milk, yoghurt, cheese) fortified with plant sterols and stanols at mealtimes
• Make one of your five-a-day a portion of beans, peas or lentils
• Indulge in soya dairy alternatives or include vegetable proteins such as tofu and quorn more often

Figures by region:

Belfast
24% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
48% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
38% of people have never had a cholesterol check
52% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
29% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Birmingham
47% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
60% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
52% of people have never had a cholesterol check
47% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
24% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Brighton
42% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
67% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
42% of people have never had a cholesterol check
33% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
36% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Bristol
47% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
51% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
41% of people have never had a cholesterol check
51% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
40% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Cardiff
43% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
47% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
43% of people have never had a cholesterol check
62% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
45% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Ediburgh
45% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
55% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
41% of people have never had a cholesterol check
47% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
40% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Glasgow
36% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
52% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
44% of people have never had a cholesterol check
46% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
36% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Leeds
50% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
56% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
48% of people have never had a cholesterol check
48% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
44% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Liverpool
50% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
59% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
24% of people have never had a cholesterol check
48% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
35% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

London
42% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
51% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
46% of people have never had a cholesterol check
55% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
38% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Manchester
41% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
64% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
37% of people have never had a cholesterol check
52% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
33% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Newcastle
39% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
61% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
40% of people have never had a cholesterol check
51% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
39% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Norwich
41% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
54% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
44% of people have never had a cholesterol check
59% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
28% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Nottingham
40% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
61% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
36% of people have never had a cholesterol check
57% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
42% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Plymouth
55% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
36% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
55% of people have never had a cholesterol check
46% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
12% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Sheffield
36% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
74% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
60% of people have never had a cholesterol check
31% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
38% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels

Southampton
53% wrongly thought that high cholesterol results from drinking too much
54% did not know that you can inherit the condition.
41% of people have never had a cholesterol check
61% correctly identified oats as having cholesterol lowering benefits
36% knew that spreads fortified with plant sterols could lower their cholesterol levels
ENDS

FACTFILE:

HEART UK was formed in 2002 following a merger of The Family Heart Association (FHA) and the British Hyperlipidaemia Association (BHA).

HEART UK - The Cholesterol Charity - promotes healthy hearts and better lives by:

• helping and supporting individuals, families and health professionals to understand and control cholesterol conditions
• promoting education and research to improve identification, prevention, treatment and care of cholesterol and lipid conditions
• working in partnership with government, the NHS, industry and other charities
• promoting best practice in addressing inherited and non-inherited cholesterol conditions

Two thirds of the UK have raised cholesterol. Over 120,000 people in Britain have a form of inherited high cholesterol called Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH) which can cause premature death in those as young as 30 – and only 15% of those with the condition are known.

The Chief Executive of HEART UK is Jules Payne. She was formerly Deputy Chief Executive at Allergy UK, a charity supporting people with all allergies and intolerances. Her previous background was in business development within the commercial arena and she has experience of a multitude of industries, including recruitment, advertising, energy and the grey market.

HEART UK ambassadors include actress Dame Judi Dench, chef Aldo Zilli and Dr Chris Steele.

Hovis Hearty Oats is the ONLY bread made with 50% Oats and is approved by HEART UK

People wishing to find out more about FH should contact: HEART UK on the helpline - 0845 450 5988, or visit www.heartuk.org.uk

(EDITOR: Clearly, as the same misinformation is, generally, prevalent throughout the land, then there is something at fault with the information people are being given, or the delivery of this information? And although the message given out is that certain foods can help lower cholesterol levels, some Trading Standard Departments have, foolishly, in the opinions of some, intervened by launching  court cases that might have given some members of the public the impression that it is not possible to use certain foodstuffs to reduce their cholesterol levels. Everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet, or we see the situation that exists in the UK, fragmented advice and erroneous information that could put people's lives at risk.)