SINGAPORE: A study conducted on some 5,000 Singaporeans showed that 48.1 per cent had high cholesterol but 17.3 per cent were unaware of their condition.
The study also revealed that more than eight in 10 did not know the difference between good and bad cholesterol and that one in 10 was worried about potential side effects of medication to lower high cholesterol.
The study was conducted from 2004 to 2007 by the National University Hospital, Singapore General Hospital and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
A more recent study - conducted from June to August last year by the Singapore Heart Foundation - involved some 300 respondents, of which 22 per cent were diagnosed with high cholesterol.
Doctors advise people to be more aware of their cholesterol conditions and distinguish between good and bad cholesterol so as to receive the right kind of care for their condition.
They say leaving high cholesterol untreated increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
On the potential side effects of medication to lower high cholesterol, Associate Professor Tai E Shyong, head of the Endocrinology Division at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said: "I'm not saying there are no risks associated with medications for lowering cholesterol but I think it's important we be very clear that whenever a doctor makes a recommendation for a patient to go on medication, he's made an assessment as to what the relative risk and benefit is.
“We only make a recommendation for treatment when the benefit is greater than the risk."
Mr Tay Chong Chek was just 36 when he was diagnosed with high cholesterol, placing him in the high-risk category for coronary heart disease.
He said: "In 1990, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol from regular check-ups. I was rather tired and was under work stress. My bad cholesterol was 245 (mg/dL).
“I started taking Zocol for 13 years but that didn't help because of work stress and I was shifting office, which made it worse. (There was also) no control of diet and (no) exercise."
But now, his cholesterol level is under control, due to a proper diet, regular check-ups, medication and exercise.
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