It’s estimated that close to half of adults in the UK are living with cholesterol levels above the national guidelines for total cholesterol (greater than 5 mmol/L). High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, which are the two leading causes of death in the UK. According to the British Heart Foundation, high cholesterol is associated with 1 in 4 heart and circulatory disease deaths in the UK
In this blog post, we will discuss the following:
- The causes and impact of high cholesterol
- What it means for employers
- What employers can do to support their employees in improving cholesterol levels and heart health
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood. It is essential for many bodily functions, but high levels of cholesterol can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
What’s important to remember is that there are two distinct types of cholesterol: high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL).
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is often referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol because it helps to remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is known as ‘bad’ cholesterol because it can lead to the buildup of fatty deposits in blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Detecting high cholesterol levels
Cholesterol levels are easily measured through a simple blood test, providing insights into HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, total cholesterol, the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L. As a general guide, total cholesterol levels should be 5 mmol/L or less for healthy adults and 4 mmol/L or less for those at high risk
However, individual circumstances and external factors such as smoking, obesity and diabetes may influence target levels.
What causes high cholesterol?
High cholesterol can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Diet: Eating a diet high in saturated and trans fats can increase LDL cholesterol levels.
- Genetics: Some people are born with genes that make them more likely to have high cholesterol.
- Weight: Being overweight or obese can increase LDL cholesterol levels and decrease HDL cholesterol levels.
- Age: Cholesterol levels tend to rise with age.
- Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease, can also increase cholesterol levels.
Why should high cholesterol be a concern for businesses?
High cholesterol can have a significant impact on employee health and productivity. Employees with high cholesterol are more likely to:
- Take sick days
- Experience absenteeism
- Have decreased productivity
- Develop serious health problems, such as heart attack and stroke, which can lead to long-term disability and even death
How can employers help employees maintain healthy cholesterol levels?
There are a number of things that businesses can do to help their employees improve their cholesterol levels. These include:
- Offering workplace wellness programmes: These programmes can provide employees with access to health education and resources to help them make healthy lifestyle choices.
- Creating a healthy workplace environment: This includes providing employees with healthy food options and opportunities for physical activity.
- Encouraging employees to take breaks: Employees should be encouraged to take breaks throughout the day in order to avoid a sedentary lifestyle, which could lead to heart disease.
- Providing access to regular cholesterol checks: As well as providing employees with access to affordable healthcare, employers can also provide preventive care such as cholesterol screenings.
How DocHQ Cholesterol Check can help
High cholesterol often has no symptoms, which is why it is known as a ‘silent killer’. It is important to have regular cholesterol checks to detect high cholesterol early.
DocHQ Cholesterol Check is a simple and convenient way for employees to check their cholesterol levels from the home or office, without needing to see a GP. It is a finger-prick test that measures Triglycerides, HDL, LDL, Total Cholesterol, and Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio. Employees will receive a confidential online GP-verified results report within 1-3 days, including doctor’s advice on next steps.DocHQ Cholesterol Checks are available to companies looking to provide enhanced employee wellbeing benefit packages. To find out more and sample our Health Checks service, contact Amit Arora, at email@example.com