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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Heart health check warning
Cholesterol test
Blood tests can be used to determine cholesterol levels
Most people do not know basic information about the health of their heart that could be used to save their lives.

Research carried out for the British Cardiac Patients Association (BCPA) found that 72% of UK adults do not know their blood pressure and 85% do not know their cholesterol level.

Knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels is crucial in ensuring that your heart is healthy

Eve Knight
Blood pressure and cholesterol levels are both important measures of the health of the circulatory system.

Each year, over 40,000 people die from heart attacks and strokes caused by high blood pressure.

Many more die or suffer long term disability as a result of heart disease caused by high cholesterol levels.

Tests for both are quick and simple to perform, and once diagnosed, raised levels can be quickly and easily treated in most cases.

Healthy levels

The research revealed that only 32% of those surveyed knew that their cholesterol level should be under 5 millimols per litre (mmol/l).

Only 16% knew that the generally accepted maximum healthy level for blood pressure is 140/85 millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

Eve Knight, of the BCPA, said: "It is hard to tell if you have raised blood pressure or cholesterol levels because there are often no obvious symptoms.

"But knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels is crucial in ensuring that your heart is healthy.

"If you know your levels are slightly raised it is very easy to take steps to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

"If you have levels that need medical treatment, there are many medicines that can be prescribed to bring your levels down.

"But if you don't know your levels, then no-one will know whether you need treatment or not."

Many pharmacists can check blood pressure and cholesterol levels for a small fee.

People with a cholesterol level above 5 mmol/l or blood pressure higher than 140/85 should seek professional advice.

The research, conducted The Gallup Organization, was based on telephone interviews with 1,045 adults, of which 156 had been prescribed medicine for raised blood pressure.

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