Do you know your cholesterol numbers?

People are being encouraged to know their cholesterol and blood pressure numbers as well as they know their bank PIN code.

These numbers flag up early signs of cardiovascular disease which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Poor heart and artery health can also lead to heart failure, kidney disease, arterial disease and vascular dementia.

What is high cholesterol?

Cholesterol is carried in your blood proteins. It can build up in the artery walls, restricting blood flow to the heart, brain and rest of the body. It can be measured with a blood test.

What should your total cholesterol levels be?

5mmol/L or less for healthy adults

4mmol/L or less for those at high risk

You are at high risk if you have a family history of heart disease, heart attacks or strokes, are overweight or have high blood pressure.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is usually 140/90mmHg or higher

Ideal blood pressure is usually between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg

Low blood pressure is lower than 90/60mmHg

Most cases of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) are preventable and Public Health England (PHE) recommends people should:

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat healthily
  • Keep to a healthy weight
  • Drink at safe levels

By 2029, PHE and NHS England are aiming for:

  • 80% of people with high blood pressure detected and treated – up from 57% currently
  • 75% of 40-75-year-olds having cholesterol levels measured – fewer than 50% currently take up the free health check
  • 45% of 40-74-year-olds at high risk of CVD treated with statins – up from 35% currently

The targets that have been set will help meet the commitment to prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and cases of dementia, as set out in the Government’s long-term plan for the NHS.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, said:

We know our PIN numbers but not the numbers that save our lives.

Thousands of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented by more people knowing their blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and by seeking help early.


Text References

BBC News. (2019). ‘Know your cholesterol like you know your Pin code’. Accessible: Last Accessed: 15 February 2019.