Heart Health

20 December 2012

New Year's resolutions: make two appointments for LDL-Cholesterol tests

Each year people make New Year's resolutions hoping for a healthier life. Cardiologists are urging South Africans to make two appointments this year and stick to them.


Each year people make New Year’s resolutions hoping for a healthier life in the year ahead. Although the chance always exists that you may abandon them by March, the country’s leading cardiologists are urging us to make two appointments this year and stick to them.

Dr Eric Klug, a Johannesburg Heart Specialist, and leading the SA Heart LDL-Cholesterol (LDL-C) campaign recommends having your LDL-Cholesterol checked twice a year to know your vital level.

Cardiovascular disease is the second biggest killer in South Africa.  Every day, approximately 80 people die of myocardial infarction or heart failure, while another 60 die due to stroke.

If you or a member of your family has already suffered a heart attack or stroke, you know how devastating this can be. Knowing your vital numbers is important to understand your risk so that you can take the necessary action to prevent a heart attack or stroke.

LDL-Cholesterol is the dangerous cholesterol in the body. LDL-cholesterol sticks to the walls of your arteries and causes a narrowing of these tubes.  The build-up of cholesterol in the arteries of the heart or the brain eventually results in a heart attack or stroke.

Healthy diet and cholesterol meds

Patients who have already suffered from a cardiovascular event must make sure that their LDL-C level is below 1.8 mmol/L.  Medicines called statins are often required to lower LDL-C. These medicines are tried and trusted and proven to be remarkably safe. For every 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL-C the risk of having a cardiovascular event is reduced by approximately 20%.

According to Dr Klug, he has noticed that some patients, after surviving a heart attack or stroke, recover well and feel that they don't need to continue taking their cholesterol lowering medications or stick to a healthy lifestyle. This is a very dangerous choice to make. Like your garden needs continuous care to remove all the weeds, your cholesterol needs to be kept low FOREVER to protect blood vessels from clogging up again. There is no "one course of tablets" and all is cured, we need to continue with a healthy diet and taking our cholesterol lowering tablets life-long.

If you can reduce the LDL-Cholesterol level to below 1.8 by following your doctor’s advice and taking your medication you significantly lessen the chance of having a first or another cardiovascular event. It is important to continue your treatment.

If you have had a heart attack, stroke, suffer from kidney disease or diabetes:

  • Ask your doctor to check your LDL-Cholesterol twice a year with your regular check up
  • Talk to your doctor about what to do to keep your LDL-Cholesterol level below 1.8 mmol/L
  • Eat correctly and take your medicine as agreed with your  doctor  

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.