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High cholesterol: key points

  • A high cholesterol level in the blood is a clinical risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke and is also linked to diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • The risk factors for high cholesterol include a fatty diet, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol to excess, inherited conditions, some ethnic groups and getting older.
  • The consensus in the UK is that 5.0 mmol/l is the point at which the total cholesterol level becomes 'raised'.
  • An estimated 56% of Scottish men and 56% of Scottish women aged 16-64 in 2010/11 had a cholesterol level greater than 5.0 mmol/l (including those on lipid lowering medication). This compares to 70% of Scottish men and 68% of Scottish women in 1995.
  • A large proportion of these people do not attend their GP practice. An estimated 0.7% of the population, who were registered, (approximately 37,660 people) consulted a member of the general practice team at least once during 2012/13 because of a high cholesterol level.


Section updates:

  • The last review of this section was completed in December¬†2016.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end December 2017.
Page last updated: 21 December 2016

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014