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Cholesterol-lowering medication

There are several different types of cholesterol-lowering medication which work in different ways.  Your GP can advise you about the most suitable type of treatment.

Commonly prescribed medication is outlined below.

Statins which block the enzyme (a type of chemical) in your liver that is needed to make cholesterol, and reduce your blood cholesterol level.

Low-dose aspirin (depending on your age -children under 16 should not take aspirin and a number of other factors)  can prevent blood clots from forming.

Niacin is a B vitamin that is found in foods and multivitamin supplements. In high doses (available by prescription), niacin lowers LDL and triglycerides and raises HDL. However, it can cause side effects, particularly flushing (turning red in the face), so is not commonly used.

Ezetimibe is a medication that blocks the absorption of cholesterol from food and bile juices in your intestines into your blood. It is generally not as effective as statins, but is well tolerated and can be taken at the same time as your usual statin if required and tolerable.

You can help prevent getting high blood cholesterol by eating a healthy, balanced diet that is low in saturated fat.

Losing weight

If you are overweight, losing weight should help reduce your cholesterol level. Regular exercise can help you lose weight.

FREE Prescription collection & delivery

FREE Prescription collection & delivery

We offer all our local patients a FREE prescription collection and delivery service for your prescriptions. Now, your medications can be delivered to your door, free of charge and at a time that’s convenient for you.

Medication review

Medication review

Our pharmacist can help you get the best out of the medication prescribed by your GP, helping you understand what medicines you are taking and why.

Pharmacy First

Pharmacy First

For any minor illness or ailments, anyone who don’t pay prescription charges can now go to their pharmacist for advice and get medicine on the NHS free of charge.

Help to Stop Smoking

Help to Stop Smoking

You’re four times more likely to quit smoking for good if you use NHS Stop Smoking Services.

Weight management

If you have a problem with your weight, the key to success is to think small and make realistic changes to your diet and level of physical activity that can become a part of your daily routine.

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the more common long term illnesses people suffer with in the UK. Nearly 2.8 million suffer from diabetes and there are many more out there with diabetes that are not yet diagnosed.  It is estimated that approximately 1 million people in the UK have the condition but are unaware of it.

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

High blood pressure is a common condition, affecting around one in three adults in England

Your Cholesterol

Cholesterol is mostly made by the liver from the fatty foods we eat and is vital for the normal functioning of the body, however having an excessively high level of Cholesterol can have a serious effect on your health.

Diet

Eating a healthy diet that is low in saturated fats can reduce your level of bad cholesterol.

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Diet

Eating a healthy diet that is low in saturated fats can reduce your level of LDL (bad cholesterol), these include:

  • carbohydrates (cereals, wholegrain bread, potatoes, rice and pasta)
  • proteins (lean meat, beans and oily fish)
  • unsaturated fats (avocados, nuts and seeds, sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil)
  • fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day)

You should try to avoid or cut down on the following foods, which are rich in saturated fat:

  • fatty cuts of meat and meat products, such as sausages and pies
  • butter, ghee and lard
  • cream, soured cream, creme fraiche and ice cream
  • cheese, particularly hard cheese
  • cakes and biscuits
  • chocolate
  • coconut oil, coconut cream and palm oil

According to the Food Standards Agency:

  • the average man should have no more than 30g saturated fat a day
  • the average woman should have no more than 20g saturated fat a day

To get an idea how much saturated food you are consuming, take a look at the food labels of the foods you are eating.

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Your Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid. It is mostly made by the liver from the fatty foods we eat and is vital for the normal functioning of the body however having an excessively high level of lipids in your blood (hyperlipidemia) can have a serious effect on your health as it increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

‘Good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol

Cholesterol cannot travel around the body on its own because it does not dissolve in water. Instead, it is carried in your blood by molecules called lipoproteins.

The two main lipoproteins are LDL and HDL.

Bad Cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) this carries cholesterol from your liver to the cells that need it. If there is too much cholesterol for the cells to use, this can cause a harmful build in the artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries restricting the flow of blood to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also increases the chance of a blood clot developing.

Good Cholesterol: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it is either broken down or passed from the body as a waste product.

The amount of cholesterol in the blood (including both LDL and HDL) can be measured with a blood test.

Normal cholesterol level

Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.

The government recommends that cholesterol levels should be less than 5mmol/L.

In the UK, two out of three adults have a total cholesterol level of 5mmol/L or above.  On average, men in England have a cholesterol level of 5.5mmol/L and women have a level of 5.6mmol/L.

The UK population has one of the highest average cholesterol concentrations in the world.

There are many risk factors that can increase your chance of having heart problems or stroke if you have high cholesterol.

• an unhealthy diet, obesity, alcohol or smoking (can be changed by altering your lifestyle)

• having diabetes or high blood pressure (can be treated with medication)

• having a family history of stroke or heart disease (cannot be changed)

Who is at risk and should be tested?

Anyone can have their blood cholesterol level tested, but it is particularly important to have it checked if:

• You have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini-stroke or you have leg artery disease.

• You are over 40.

• You have a family history of early cardiovascular disease (for example, if your father or brother developed heart disease or had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55, or if your mother or sister had these conditions before the age of 65).

• A close family member has a cholesterol-related condition, such as familial hypercholesterolaemia (inherited high cholesterol).

• You are overweight or obese.

• You have high blood pressure or diabetes.

• You have another medical condition such as a kidney condition, an underactive thyroid gland or an inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis). These conditions can cause increased levels of cholesterol or triglycerides.

Assessing your risk

Your HBS Pharmacist can carry out the test.

This sample will be used to determine the amount of LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides (other fatty substances) in your blood.

When assessing your risk of heart attack or stroke, your PHARMACIST may refer to your cholesterol ratio. This is your total cholesterol level divided by your level of HDL cholesterol.

Cholesterol levels or cholesterol ratio should not be looked at on their own. A number of other factors should be taken into consideration when assessing your risk, including:

• BMI (body mass index), which measures your weight in relation to your height.

• Treatable risk factors, such as high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes and other medical conditions.

• Your age, sex, family history and ethnicity.

At the end of your assessment, you will be told whether you have a high, moderate of low risk of getting cardiovascular disease (heart disease or stroke) within the next 10 years.

If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, the first method of treatment will usually involve making some changes to your diet (adopting a low-fat diet) and doing plenty of regular exercise.

After a few months, if your cholesterol level has not dropped, you will usually be advised to take cholesterol-lowering medication.

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Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

High blood pressure is a common condition, affecting around one in three adults in England…

… however, it is estimated that 18% of adult men and 13% of adult women have high blood pressure but are not getting treatment for it.

The risk of developing high blood pressure increases with age. Half of people over 75 years have the condition.

For reasons that are not fully understood, people of Afro-Caribbean origin are more likely to develop high blood pressure than other ethnic groups.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries (blood vessels). Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Your blood pressure is recorded as two figures.

The top (first) number is the systolic pressure. This is the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts.

The bottom (second) number is the diastolic pressure. This is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between each heartbeat.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is a sustained blood pressure that is greater than 140/90 mmHg.

High blood pressure often causes no symptoms, or immediate problems, but it is a major risk factor for developing other conditions such as a stroke or heart disease.

If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. Over time, this can weaken it. The increased pressure can also damage the walls of your arteries, resulting in a blockage or causing the artery to split (haemorrhage). Both of these situations can cause a stroke.

In most cases, there is no single reason for a rise in blood pressure but evidence shows that lifestyle can play a significant role in regulating your blood pressure.

Risk factors for high blood pressure include:

  • age
  • poor diet
  • lack of exercise
  • being overweight
  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • Diabetes and kidney disease are also linked to high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can be treated or prevented by making changes to your lifestyle, such as eating a healthier diet, exercising more regularly, and reducing the amount of alcohol that you drink.

Medication that can help you lower your blood pressure is also available.

Who should have a blood pressure check?

Most people will not know if they have high blood pressure unless they have it checked. We’d recommend everyone should have regular blood pressure checks at least every 3 years. The check should be more often (at least once a year) in: older people, people who have had a previous high reading, people with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or take regular pain killers.

At HBS Pharmacy our health professionals will test your blood pressure by using a cuff that fits around your upper arm and is then inflated so that it becomes tight. The test is quick and painless, and the vast majority of people will have experienced it before.

You may be referred to your GP or other health professional if that this is appropriate: for example, if your blood pressure test reveals a raised blood pressure.

Lowering your blood pressure

Lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure include:

  • Regular exercise of at least 30 minutes a day, a minimum of five times a week.
  • Losing weight if you are overweight.
  • Cutting your alcohol intake to recommended levels (less than 21 units a week for men, and less than 14 units a week for women).
  • Eating a healthy, low-fat, balanced diet.
  • Restricting your salt intake to less than 6g (0.2oz) a day.
  • Relaxation therapies, and reducing stress.
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Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the more common long term illnesses people suffer with in the UK.

Nearly 2.8 million suffer from diabetes and there are many more out there with diabetes that are not yet diagnosed.  It is estimated that approximately 1 million people in the UK have the condition but are unaware of it.

How does diabetes occur?

Normally, a hormone called insulin produced by the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach is needed to move any glucose (type of sugar) out of the blood and into cells, where it is broken down to produce energy.  This occurs when we eat and food is digested and enters the bloodstream.

In people with diabetes, the body is unable to break down glucose into energy. This is because there is either not enough insulin to move the glucose, or because the insulin that is there does not work properly.

There are two types of diabetes:

type 1 diabetes which occurs when the body does not produce any insulin at all

type 2 diabetes which occurs when not enough insulin is produced by the body for it to function properly, or when the body’s cells do not react to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is far more common with around 90% of all adults in the UK suffering from this form of diabetes.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be able to control your symptoms simply by eating a healthy diet and monitoring your blood glucose level.  However, as type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, you may eventually need to take insulin medication, usually in the form of tablets.

Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity. Obesity-related diabetes is sometimes referred to as maturity-onset diabetes because it is more common in older people.

So what are the symptoms?

  • Thirsty all the time
  • Passing too much urine
  • Tiredness
  • Recurrent infections

Prevention and early detection is the way forward…

Checking your blood sugar can be done using a simple and painless blood test. Your local HBS Pharmacy can help you with this.  Our fully trained staff members will provide a private consultation and explain the test and the results.  It takes around 15 minutes and the pharmacist will inform you as to the right kind of help and how to improve your health.

If needed they will refer you to your doctor or provide ways in which you can help yourself and monitor any potential health risk.

Useful website links:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes/Pages/Diabetes.aspx

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Weight management

If you’re overweight, the key to success is to think small and make realistic changes to your diet and level of physical activity that can become a part of your daily routine.

Don’t forget losing weight will bring you a range of important health benefits..

Modern life can make it easy to eat too much and do little physical activity. The result is often weight gain. Evidence shows that the best way to lose weight is to make long-term changes to diet and physical activity that result in a steady rate of weight loss..

Ready to get started?

At HBS we can advise and support with a number of weight loss programmes and help you choose the best option to suit your circumstances and to help you get started.

However remember to lose weight; we need to change our current habits. This means eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting active.  Drastic exercise regimes and fad diets that result in rapid weight loss are unlikely to work for long, because these kinds of lifestyle changes can’t be maintained. Once you stop the regime, you’re likely to return to old habits and regain weight.

Instead, choose diet and physical activity changes that you can make a part of your daily routine, and stick to for life.   Along the way, you can monitor changes in your body mass index (BMI) using our Healthy weight calculator.

Start today

Avoid snacking and swap it for something healthier like a piece of fruit.  Many common snacks, such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits and crisps, are high in fat and sugar and supply calories that we don’t need.

Find a way to fit just one extra walk into your day. Brisk walking is a way to burn calories, and you can often fit it into your daily routine. You might walk to the shops during your lunch break, or get off the bus one stop early on the way home and walk the rest of the way.

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