Caption: It's possible for young adults without a weight problem to have high cholesterol. Dr Tan Hong Chang, Consultant, Department of Endocrinology, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), explains the dangers of this. (iStock photo)
Even if you're young and normal weight, you may not be as healthy as you think. High cholesterol can be present even in healthy young adults without a weight problem.
High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for atherosclerosis – commonly known as hardening of the arteries as a result from build-up of fat and cholesterol in the walls – putting the person at higher risk of developing heart disease and/or stroke later in life.
"Atherosclerosis develops gradually and there may not be any symptoms until an artery is so narrowed that it cannot supply adequate blood to your organs and tissues. Previously thought to only afflict older people, this hidden thickening of the arteries is now being observed in younger and otherwise healthy adults," explains
Dr Tan Hong Chang, a Consultant from the
Department of Endocrinology at
Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the
"When a blood clot completely blocks the artery or even breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack or stroke which can be debilitating or even fatal," warns Dr Tan.
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When should you go for screening?
While it is strongly recommended that men and women aged 40 years and older be regularly screened for lipid disorders, younger adults (aged 18 and older) should also be screened in the presence of any of the following risk factors:
- Diabetes mellitus
- A family history of cardiovascular disease (heart disease) before the age of 50 in male relatives, and before 60 in female relatives
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- A family history suggestive of familial hyperlipidaemia (abnormally high levels of lipids in the blood)
- Multiple coronary artery disease risk factors (eg. tobacco usage, hypertension, obesity)
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