A health emergency like a heart attack is often how you find out about high cholesterol levels. Yet, experts explain how your sleeping patterns could be an early warning sign of the condition dubbed the ‘silent killer’
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A large proportion of the UK’s adult population suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which often remains undiagnosed until the symptom-less condition wreaks havoc on the body with a heart attack or stroke.
Dr Don Grant, of The Independent Pharmacy, explained that since it offers no warning signs there are only two ways people often learn about their high cholesterol levels; either with a blood test or when they have a health emergency like a heart attack.
But, researchers have revealed that taking note of sleep patterns can help you find out about the silent killer early on.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about keeping an eye on high cholesterol, as well as how you can reduce your cholesterol intake.
What are the warning signs of high cholesterol that are linked to your sleeping pattern?
A 2014 study proved that there is a link between sleep patterns and high cholesterol. Experts found that often difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep may be an early sign of the silent, but dangerous condition.
Though it can be a sign of high cholesterol levels, the study was unable to establish that disturbed sleep was a symptom of the condition.
Despite no causal effect being found between sleep patterns and cholesterol levels, Dr Grant said: “It’s not unreasonable to say that if people do have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep, they may wish to consider getting a blood test to establish if they have high cholesterol.”
He added that keeping an eye on sleeping patterns is better than the alternative of finding out through a medical emergency.
What are the dangers of high cholesterol?
High cholesterol can cause a range of health problems including your body developing heart disease and suffering from heart attacks.
While it is needed to build cells and produce hormones in the body, too much of the fatty substance can be dangerous.
High cholesterol levels cause fatty deposits to develop in blood vessels. As these deposits grow it can cause narrowing of the arteries, cutting off blood supply to the heart and brain.
Sometimes these deposits can also break off and cause a clot, often resulting in serious medical issues such as heart attack, stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) – known as a mini stroke.
How to lower cholesterol in your diet
A healthy, balanced diet can prevent high cholesterol levels. For example replacing foods with saturated fat with those containing unsaturated fats such as mackerel and salmon, pumpkin seeds, avocados, almonds and cashews, can help to reduce your cholesterol levels.
Similarly, keeping an eye on your intake of artificial trans fat found in processed food like biscuits and cakes can help to control it as well. So make sure to check food labels for hydrogenated fats or oils.
Also, aim to eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables a day alongside fibre-rich foods such as wholemeal bread, pulses and cereals.
The cooking techniques you use can also impact your cholesterol levels so try to reduce the amount of fat used by switching your techniques up sometimes from roasting or frying to grilling, steaming or poaching, instead.
Besides your diet, note that having an active lifestyle with exercise ranging from light walking and cycling to running and dancing can also help.