Having trouble sleeping could be a warning sign you have a silent killer

MANY people struggle to get to sleep at night, but experts have found that not being able to nod off could be a warning sign of a silent killer.

Around 40 per cent of Brits are thought to suffer with high, or borderline high cholesterol levels.

Medications for the condition were previously found to have cost the NHS around £16.7million a year.

High cholesterol happens when you have too much of a fatty substance in your blood.

The NHS states that high cholesterol does not cause symptoms and the only way you can find out if you have it is through a test.

Things like your age, weight and other conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes can also contribute to your risk of high cholesterol.

Dr Don Grant clinical lead at The Independent Pharmacy said previous studies have shown links to sleeping issues and high cholesterol.

He explained that Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona noted the connection in 2014 in a study published in the Sleep Journal.

Patients who participated in the study were assessed on their lifestyle habits as well as their sleep duration and whether or not they snored.

Their lipid levels were also measured and this is what indicates levels of good and bad cholesterol.

It found that people who slept for less than six hours each night were more likely to have LDL which is bad choelsterol.

High cholesterol has links to heart disease and the researches said that the study confirmed that a lack of sleep was linked to this.

However, Dr Grandner did state that it wasn't clear whether or not this was down to cause and effect or if the association with sleep and cholesterol was 'just a coincidence'.

He said: "However, with there being a connection between these issues, it’s not unreasonable to say that if people do have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep then they may wish to consider getting a blood test to establish if they have high cholesterol.

What’s the best way to lower cholesterol?

Cutting back cholesterol to the levels we were born with reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes by a third, a study found.

There are a number of ways you can cut back, including:

  • Maintain a healthy diet which is low in fatty food
  • Swap saturated fat for fruit, veg and wholegrain cereals
  • Give up smoking
  • Take regular exercise

What's an ideal safe level of cholesterol?

The way you can measure blood cholesterol levels is using the unit millimoles per litre of blood (mmol/L).

Your levels of cholesterol should be:

  • 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults
  • 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk

When it comes to measuring LDLs, the levels should be:

  • 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
  • 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk

"It’s certainly better than the alternative of people discovering they have high cholesterol when they experience a heart attack or stroke”. 

There aren't symptoms of high cholesterol and Dr Grant said that means that the medical and scientific world cannot make conclusive statements on the lesser-known symptoms of high cholesterol. 

He added: “What can be said definitely and conclusively is that having a blood test will reveal if someone has high cholesterol. 

“The blood test for checking high cholesterol is very simple and extremely accurate. A GP or nurse takes a blood sample. The blood is then tested for its levels of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. 

“High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is good cholesterol. Non-HDL cholesterol (all your cholesterol minus the HDL) is bad cholesterol”. 

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