KUALA LUMPUR — July 26, 2017: Be warned: High levels of cholesterol in the body can be a silent killer without showing symptoms for prolonged periods.
Thus, everyone aged 20 and above should have their cholesterol level checked at least once every five years.
According to a consultant cardiologist with the Sime Darby Medical Centre in Subang Jaya, Dr. Jeyamalar Rajadurai, most people with high cholesterol do not have any symptoms, so many are unaware that their cholesterol is too high.
During a forum here today, Rajadurai explained that such elevated levels, known as hypercholesterolemia in medical science, may be due to heritance and over production of cholesterol in the liver of the group having low efficiency in removing bad cholesterol from the blood.
Behaviours that increase the risk of hypercholesterolemia include unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, obesity and genetics.
According to medical studies, being a genetic condition, cholesterol can be inherited and hence, children with familial history need to start routine check-ups from as early as the age of five.
“About one out of every 500 people has this inherited disorder called familia hypercholesterolemia, which can cause extremely high cholesterol levels,” she said.
Senior consultant cardiologist Dr. David Quek said recommended lifestyle change for those with hypercholesterolemia include giving up smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, increasing physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight.
“On average, diet and exercise can reduce bad cholesterol by about 10 per cent in our body while medications can lower bad cholesterol by another 20 per cent to more than 50 per cent,” he said.
He cautioned that unchecked hypercholesterolemia in an individual can lead to the formation of plaques in the arteries, which could further lead to eruptions of the plaque in the vessels.
These eruptions can be associated with bleeding and formation of blood clots in those areas.
From here, the clots can further be released into the blood vessels in a solid mass that can block the flow of blood to major organs via the artery. That’s how a heart attack and stroke happens.
Rajadurai said hypercholesterolemia cannot be cured but the risk to get a heart attack and stroke can be reduced by taking medicines.
She added that a third of ischemic heart disease is attributable to high cholesterol, which is estimated to cause 2.6 million deaths and 29.7 million disability adjusted life years.
Ischemic heart disease remains the principle cause of death in Malaysia for the past 10 years. — Bernama