high cholesterol

High Cholesterol Management

4 out 10 Malaysians have high cholesterol, and of those, one out of four are not aware that they have this condition. Managing your cholesterol levels is key to lowering your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

What Is High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is a condition whereby there is an abnormal level of lipids (fatty substance) in the blood. In normal situations, the body uses cholesterol that is made in the liver to make cell membranes, hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone and vitamins such as Vitamin D.

When there is an excess of cholesterol in the body, it can be left to accumulate in your arteries and make them clogged. This causes damage and narrows your heart and circulatory system (coronary artery disease) which leads to health issues such as a stroke or heart attack.

What is a Doctor Home Visit?

What Causes High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is caused by an accumulation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from modifiable and non-modifiable risks, namely:

Modifiable risks

  • Physical inactivity/sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Diet high in saturated fat or trans fat
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes

Non-modifiable risks

There are two types of cholesterol in the body:

  • High-density lipoprotein cholesterol: (“good” cholesterol that is regulated in the liver)
  • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: (“bad” cholesterol, which collects in your arteries as it is transported around the body)

Contrary to what most people think, not all cholesterol is harmful – as ‘bad’ as LDL is, we actually do need a certain amount of LDL in our bodies; and HDL is necessary to remove excess LDL from our bloodstream.

A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood leads to buildup of cholesterol in the blood vessels (atherosclerosis). This can lead to health issues like cardiovascular risk as a buildup of cholesterol can narrow and limit blood flow to the heart. A complete cut off of blood supply can result in a heart attack.

What Are The Symptoms Of High Cholesterol?

There are often no symptoms of high cholesterol and many patients go undiagnosed for years. For this reason, high cholesterol is touted as a “silent killer”.

When symptoms appear, they are:

  • Chest pains (Angina)
  • Stroke
  • Difficulties when walking
  • High blood pressure

The only way to detect high cholesterol is through a blood test. If you’re unsure about whether you have high cholesterol, contact us to schedule a blood test and health screening to detect high cholesterol early.

Total Cholesterol
< 5.17
< 200
Borderline high
5.17 - 6.19
200 - 239
≥ 6.2
≥ 240
LDL Cholesterol
< 2.59
< 100
Near optimal/above optimal
2.59 - 3.35
100 - 129
Borderline high
3.36 - 4.13
130 - 159
4.14 - 4.90
160 - 189
Very high
≥ 4.91
≥ 190
HDL Cholesterol
Low (undesirable)
< 1.03
< 40
High (desirable)
≥ 1.55
≥ 60
< 1.69
< 150
Borderline high
1.69 - 2.25
150 - 199
2.26 - 5.64
200 - 499
Very high
≥ 5.65
≥ 500

How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed?

High cholesterol is diagnosed during a blood test that includes a lipid profile to examine your risk of heart disease, blood pressure readings, and blood sugar (glucose) test to check for diabetes.

Diagnosis may also include checking your BMI (body mass index) and the types of fat present in your blood (triglycerides) to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to you.

For example, if you have been adopting a relatively healthy diet but still display high levels of cholesterol, you may in fact have a preexisting health condition such as diabetes, thyroid conditions (i.e. hypothyroidism) or liver disease that may be affecting your cholesterol levels.

What Are Some Treatment Options For High Cholesterol In Malaysia?

The best way to manage high cholesterol is through:

  • Exercise: At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week
  • Diet: Food high in fibre and healthy unsaturated fat
  • Regular health check ups: Cholesterol can only be measured by blood tests, so regular follow ups with your doctor is paramount

Some patients might need medication alongside the aforementioned practices.

A good cholesterol management programme should have a trained doctor to advise you on the above to keep your total cholesterol levels as low as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

At what level is cholesterol dangerously high?
Can you correct high cholesterol?
Does coffee raise cholesterol?