Cholesterol and Triglycerides: An introduction


In the year 2011-2012, approximately 5.6 million adult Australians were estimated to have a total cholesterol over 4 mmol/L. High total cholesterol is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women in Australia. According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics, in the year 2012-2013, 25% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults had abnormal or high total cholesterol levels according to their blood test results.

According to the Heart Foundation, one Australian dies every 12 minutes of cardiovascular disease. In addition, in the year 2011-2012, cardiovascular disease was the main cause of 524,000 hospitalisations Australia wide, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women and accounts for more than one third of all deaths in Australia. Apart from the personal cost, the rate of cardiovascular disease places a substantial burden on the health care system, accounting for more than 3% of all visits the general practitioner.

This brief module provides an introduction to cholesterol and triglycerides and the blood tests used for measuring them. It is not intended as a comprehensive analysis of the effect of cholesterol and triglycerides on cardiovascular disease, but rather as an overview of what cholesterol and triglycerides are and what is tested when blood tests are ordered.

It is aimed at anyone providing client care services in an Aboriginal primary health care setting, community; or any other healthcare worker involved in cholesterol and triglycerides blood testing.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Have a broad understanding of what cholesterol and triglycerides are.
  • Identify the main classifications for cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Know the normal values for blood lipid levels.
  • Identify the common treatment for high blood lipid levels.

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