Mawi’s Andrew Klymenko discusses silent heart attacks
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Sarath Jetty, a player at Middlesex Seniors Cricket, was on the M25 motorway when he “suddenly lost feeling” in the left side of his upper body. “I couldn’t feel my arm,” Jetty said – recalling the moment when his high cholesterol levels finally caught up with him. “I stopped at the side of the road and made the decision to drive straight to the hospital where they very quickly tested me and realised I was having a heart attack,” he said.
A year before his heart attack, Sarath Jetty had a cholesterol test that revealed high levels of the substance in his blood. But Jetty only paid “a little” bit of attention to the doctor’s advice about how to slash his cholesterol levels.
There are two different types of cholesterol, ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, the cardiovascular nurse Michaela Nuttall told Express.co.uk.
High levels of LDL cholesterol can cause blockages in the arteries leading to the heart – which causes a heart attack.
Jetty said: “The doctor had told me to look at my diet, zoloft withdrawal lymph nodes reduce my saturated fat intake for example, and to stop drinking and smoking.
“To be honest, I did listen a little, but because I play cricket three to four times a week, I didn’t think I was massively at risk – I thought I could keep it in control.
“I very quickly realised this was not the case when I had a heart attack.”
These days, Sarath is healthy and back playing cricket at a high level. He is in control of his cholesterol, which he says is down to several lifestyle changes alongside his medication.
“Now, I can truly say that I feel in control. I am healthy, I have managed to get back to the things I love, like cricket, and it’s all thanks to keeping on top of my cholesterol,” he said.
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“I’ve made real changes to my diet, I make sure to boil vegetables instead of frying or roasting them.
“I don’t eat any red meat – only white meat and especially fish. I also bought a German Shepherd so I go for walks with him on a daily basis and I bought a bike so I cycle a lot now.
“I understand the importance of these lifestyle changes much more now, but I shouldn’t have waited until a heart attack to be conscious of my cholesterol.”
Jetty is raising awareness for the cholesterol charity Heart UK and Novartis Pharmaceuticals’s campaign Get back in the game, which is designed to help people who have suffered heart attacks or strokes get back into the things they love by controlling cholesterol levels.
According to Nurse Nuttall, a poor understanding of high cholesterol is a widespread issue. She said: “I think there is a lack of understanding in the general public that anyone can have high cholesterol, and I mean anyone. If you’re young, slim, or have a healthy lifestyle, that doesn’t mean you don’t have high cholesterol.”
High cholesterol often doesn’t show any symptoms, which means that many people “don’t even start to think about their levels until they have a serious health issue such as a heart attack”, according to Nuttall.
She added: “If you have a family history of heart disease, or have suffered a cardiovascular event, knowing your levels and how to manage them can help your heart health and prevent another event. So don’t wait until you’ve had a heart attack to worry about your cholesterol.
“The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is through a blood test. If you have had a heart attack or stroke, or any form of cardiovascular event, then you should be having your cholesterol checked every year.
“If you haven’t had any of these and are aged 40-74 then you might be eligible for an NHS Health Check. This is provided for free every five years, which includes a cholesterol test, with most being undertaken in GP surgeries or local pharmacies.”
Luckily, you can cut down your high cholesterol levels before anything terrible happens.
The NHS recommends cutting down on foods high in fat. It specifically advises against meat pies, sausages, and fatty meat, as well as butter, lard, cream, and hard cheese. Foods that contain coconut oil or palm oil are also especially bad.
It also recommends that you quit smoking and cut down on your alcohol consumption.
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