NPN | Cholesterol

Your body needs cholesterol, so not all cholesterol is bad for you - but the type known as low-density lipoprotein can put you at higher risk of health problems, creating fatty deposits in your blood vessels that can form a clot and cause a heart attack or stroke. Two thirds of people in the UK have high cholesterol, which means they’re at risk of their arteries becoming narrower as the LDL furs them up.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to miss the fact you have high cholesterol, and usually it will take a blood test to discover your cholesterol levels. There are a few warning signs, such as numbness or cramping in your legs or feet, or thin red lines running in the direction of your nail growth as a result of limited blood flow to your nails. However, the most straight-forward way to discover your cholesterol levels is to get a test.

You can get a cholesterol test at your GP, or you can pop into your local pharmacy for a Health Check. Getting a Health Check at your community pharmacy is straightforward - your pharmacist has been trained to take your measurements, including weight, height, blood pressure, cholesterol and waist circumference, measuring your cholesterol with a finger prick blood test. Many pharmacies have a separate consultation room, which means your Health Check can be conducted in private - they tend to take around 20 to 30 minutes, so it’s sensible to give your local pharmacy a call to set up an appointment that suits your schedule.

High cholesterol is something that can be inherited, or as a result of lifestyle choices. To reduce the risk of problems associated with cholesterol, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make. Ensuring you have a healthy diet and take regular exercise can help, as can cutting out unhealthy habits like cigarette smoking or heavy alcohol use. The cholesterol we get from food like eggs, liver and prawns actually plays quite a small part in your cholesterol levels - it’s the saturated fat that causes problems, so you may be advised to reduce meat products such as sausages and pies, as well as high fat dairy foods like cheese, butter and cream. Trans fats are a risk too, so you may be advised to avoid biscuits, cakes and fast foods, and stick to poly and monounsaturated oils, like olive, rapeseed and sunflower.

The cholesterol check-up service is designed for anyone over the age of 18 who has concerns about their heart or cholesterol health. If you’re taking medication from your GP or making lifestyle changes and want to see how you’re doing, a cholesterol test will help you manage your heart health and motivate you to keep making improvements.


Your local pharmacy team will be able to give you advice on how to lower your risk and maintain the healthy lifestyle you’ll need to lower your levels of bad cholesterol. Results from your test will be shared with your GP.