High cholesterol / Hyperlipidemia

Cholesterol is a fatty substance within our blood, produced by the liver and can be measured by a blood test.

High cholesterol is when you have too much cholesterol in your blood, and it collects on the inside walls of your arteries.

This can lead to fatty material (atheroma) building up – this process is known as atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis makes it harder for blood to flow through the artery and this can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Your blood is tested for:

  • HDL cholesterol
  • non-HDL cholesterol
  • triglycerides
  • and total cholesterol result

Cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, usually shortened to ‘mmol/Litre’ or ‘mmol/L’.

New Zealand health guidelines for acceptable blood cholesterol levels are:

  • LDL-cholesterol – less than 2.0 mmol/L
  • HDL-cholesterol – greater than 1.0 mmol/L
  • Triglycerides – less than 1.7 mmol/L
  • Total cholesterol HDL ratio less than 4.0mmol/L

Types of cholesterol

HDL High-density lipoproteins

HDL is called ‘good’ cholesterol. It takes cholesterol that you don’t need back to the liver. The liver breaks it down so it can be passed on.


LDL Low density lipoprotein

LDL is ‘bad’ cholesterol due to when there is too much of it, it can build up inside the walls of the blood vessels causing narrowing of the arteries.



Our blood also contains Triglycerides which are stored in the body’s fat cells. Being very overweight, eating a lot of fatty and sugary foods or drinking too much alcohol can make you more likely to have a high triglyceride level.

Medications and treatments for high cholesterol

If your cholesterol is elevated and lifestyle changes are not enough, your doctor may suggest commencing a statin medication, to reduce cholesterol.

The most common statins are

  • Simvastatin (Zocor)
  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • Pravastatin (Pravachol)


Statin medications with lifestyle modifications (such as decreasing your intake of saturated fats) have proven to decrease patients’ overall cholesterol and improve their cardiovascular health.

If you have any queries regarding your statin medication or your cholesterol readings, please do discuss these points further with your cardiologist.

At Ascot Cardiology Group we also have experienced cardiac nurses who would be happy to assist you with your questions.

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Ascot Hospital, Level 3
90 Greenlane East
Remuera, Auckland 1051
PO Box 17264,
Greenlane, Auckland 1546

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