Archive for the ‘Carers’ Category





The facts about cholesterol levels

CSIRO is carrying out research to develop strategies for reducing cholesterol levels, the risk of heart disease and other conditions that are food-related and correctable through modifying our diet.


CSIRO is carrying out research in a number of dietary areas to develop strategies for reducing cholesterol levels, the risk of heart disease and other conditions that are food-related and correctable through modification of diet.

High levels of cholesterol are a risk factor for coronary artery disease (heart attacks and angina).

What is it?

Cholesterol is an essential type of fat that is carried in the blood.

All cells in the body need cholesterol for internal and external membranes.

It is also needed to produce some hormones and for other functions.

The body generally makes all the cholesterol it needs.

Some dietary cholesterol is normally excreted via the liver, however eating too much saturated fat leads to excess cholesterol in the blood stream.

Why is high cholesterol a problem?

High levels of cholesterol in the blood stream are a risk factor for coronary artery disease (heart attacks and angina).

If your cholesterol level is 6.5 mmol/L or greater your risk of heart disease is about 4 times greater than that of a person with a cholesterol level of 4 mmol/L.

High blood levels of cholesterol are a risk factor for coronary artery disease (heart attacks and angina).

Not all people with high cholesterol levels get heart disease.

About 30 per cent of the community will die of heart disease and most of these will be over 65 years old.

Heart disease usually takes 60-70 years to develop, but if you discover your cholesterol level is high you should see your doctor within the next 2-3 months, not necessarily tomorrow.

Other risk factors for heart disease include smoking, high blood pressure and obesity.

Cholesterol – the good and the bad

Cholesterol is carried in the blood stream in particles called lipoproteins.

These are named according to how big they are:

  • the very large particles are called Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL)
  • the intermediate size ones are called Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and these particles cause heart disease
  • the smallest particles are called High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) and these particles actually protect against heart disease.

What to do if your cholesterol level is high

The most effective way to lower your cholesterol is to reduce the amount of animal fat in your diet by various means.

You could:

  • reduce cheese intake and/or substitute low fat varieties
  • choose reduced fat milks
  • substitute polyunsaturated margarine for butter
  • choose lean cuts of meat and remove all visible fat
  • eat skinless chicken, fish or beans
  • beware of pies, pasties, fish and chips and commercial cakes (hidden fat)
  • make cakes at home with polyunsaturated fat, cook chips with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oil
  • lose weight if overweight.

If you make a number of changes to your diet you can expect your cholesterol to fall by 10 per cent.

About 15 per cent of people will see no change and another 15 per cent will see changes of 20-30 per cent.

How high is high?

If your cholesterol is between 5.5 and 6.5 your risk of heart disease is only increased by a small amount.

Don’t panic but make a few moderate changes to your diet.

However if you already have heart disease, or one of your parents developed heart disease at an early age, (less than 55 years of age) then you need to make bigger changes.

If your cholesterol is higher than 6.5 then you need to make more changes.

If despite changes to your diet your cholesterol level remains above 6.5 you may need medication, especially if you have the other risk factors mentioned or you have a family history of heart disease- see your doctor.

What about triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a stored energy source.

Most of the triglyceride is found in the very large particles, the VLDL.

Under some circumstances high blood triglyceride can be a risk factor.

If your cholesterol is high (greater than 6.5) and your HDL cholesterol is low (less than 0.9) then triglycerides can increase the risk of heart disease if they are greater than 1.7.

Triglyceride levels greater than 10 can cause inflammation of the pancreas which is a very serious condition.

How can I lower my triglyceride?

Reduce your intake of animal or hard vegetable fats, lose weight and reduce alcohol intake.

Alcohol is very powerful at elevating triglyceride.

See your family doctor if it remains elevated as you may require medication.

Find out more about CSIRO’s work in Diet & Nutrition.


Cholesterol explained

  Cholesterol is a type of fat that is part of all animal cells. It is essential for many of the body’s metabolic processes, including hormone and bile production, and to help the body use vitamin D. However, there’s no need to eat foods high in cholesterol. The body is very good at making its own cholesterol; you don’t need to help it along. In fact, too much cholesterol in your diet can lead to heart disease.

Cholesterol is essential
Cholesterol is produced by the liver and also made by most cells in the body. It is carried around in the blood by little ‘couriers’ called lipoproteins. We need blood cholesterol because the body uses it to:

  • Build the structure of cell membranes
  • Make hormones like oestrogen, testosterone and adrenaline
  • Help your metabolism work efficiently; for example, cholesterol is essential for your body to produce vitamin D
  • Produce bile acids, which help the body digest fat and absorb important nutrients.

Two types of cholesterol
Cholesterol is a white and waxy substance. There are two types of cholesterol:

  • Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – called the ‘bad’ cholesterol because it goes into the bloodstream and clogs up your arteries.
  • High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – called the ‘good’ cholesterol because it helps to take the ‘bad’ cholesterol out of the bloodstream.

Safe blood cholesterol levels
Health authorities recommend that cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5mmols per litre. Approximately 50 per cent of adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above 5mmols per litre. This makes high blood cholesterol a major health concern in Australia.

Effects of high cholesterol levels
The liver is the main processing centre for cholesterol. When we eat animal fats, the liver returns the cholesterol it can’t use to our bloodstream. When there is too much cholesterol circulating in our bloodstream, it can build up into fatty deposits. These deposits cause the arteries to narrow and can eventually block the arteries completely, leading to heart disease and stroke.

You do not need cholesterol in your diet
You don’t need to eat foods that contain cholesterol; your body can produce all the cholesterol it needs. High cholesterol foods are usually foods high in saturated fats. These foods should be limited in a healthy diet.

Foods that contain cholesterol
The cholesterol in your diet comes mainly from the saturated fats found in animal products. All foods from animals contain some cholesterol. Foods from plants do not contain cholesterol. Other sources of dietary cholesterol are full fat dairy foods, eggs and some seafood.

How to avoid saturated fats
The best way to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in your diet is to limit foods high in saturated fats. Try to avoid:

  • Fatty meats
  • Full fat dairy products
  • Processed meats like salami and sausages
  • Snack foods like chips
  • Most takeaway foods, especially deep fried foods
  • Cakes, biscuits and pastries.

Diet tips to help reduce your cholesterol
The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:

  • Limit the amount of cholesterol-rich foods you eat.
  • Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
  • Choose low or reduced fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have ‘added calcium’ soy drinks.
  • Choose lean meat (meat trimmed of fat or labelled as ‘heart smart’).
  • Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
  • Have fish (fresh or canned) at least twice a week.
  • Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
  • Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
  • Limit cheese and icecream to twice a week.

Lifestyle tips to help reduce your cholesterol
Changing some of your lifestyle habits may also help to reduce your cholesterol levels. Suggestions include:

  • Reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks per day, and avoid binge drinking.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking increases the ability of LDL cholesterol to get into your cells and cause damage.
  • Exercise regularly (for example, at least 30 minutes of brisk walking daily). Exercise increases the HDL levels and reduces LDL levels in the body.
  • Lose any excess body fat. Being overweight may contribute to elevated blood LDL levels.
  • Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. High blood sugars are linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis.

Don’t cut out all dairy foods
Some people believe that cutting out dairy foods altogether is the safest option, but this isn’t true. Dairy foods are an important part of the daily diet and contribute many essential nutrients, especially calcium. You should switch to low fat types, which will reduce the risk from saturated fats.

You don’t need to avoid eggs and seafood
Some foods are high in cholesterol but they’re fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example:

  • Egg yolks – these are high in cholesterol but are rich in several other nutrients. It is recommended that you limit the number of eggs you eat to the equivalent of one a day (whole or in dishes).
  • Seafood – prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.

Foods that may lower cholesterol levels
Some studies have suggested that eating oats and legumes may lower LDL cholesterol. Food components like saponins (found in chickpeas, alfalfa sprouts and other foods) and sulphur compounds (like allicin – found in garlic and onions) may also have a positive effect on cholesterol levels.

Plant sterols can lower cholesterol levels
Plant sterols are found naturally in plant foods including sunflower and canola seeds, vegetable oils and (in smaller amounts) in nuts, legumes, cereals, fruit and vegetables. Some margarine has concentrated plant sterols added to it. Plant sterol enriched margarines may help to lower LDL cholesterol.

Medication may be needed
For some people diet and lifestyle changes are not enough. High blood cholesterol levels are also linked to genetics. Some people inherit altered genes that cause high cholesterol, and this can usually not be changed by lifestyle or diet.

If you are at risk of coronary heart disease and your LDL cholesterol level doesn’t drop after scrupulous attention to diet, your doctor may recommend medications to force your LDL levels down. However, diet and exercise will still be important, even if you are taking medication. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist who treats cardiovascular disease.

Where to get help

Things to remember

  • Cholesterol is a fatty substance essential to many metabolic processes.
  • Your body needs cholesterol, but it can make its own – you don’t need to consume cholesterol in your diet.
  • High levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood have been linked to coronary heart disease.
  • Foods high in saturated fats tend to boost LDL cholesterol.

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I know this is not about health as such but, i just went and did my tax and for the first time i have to pay the ATO, this is because Greater Southern health and BCS have not taken enough tax out durning the financial year.   Apparently i’m not the first to be stung and stung hard.


Editer’s Grip

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DOCS to support ‘vulnerable’ mums-to-be

The New South Wales Government is today launching a six-month trial of a program aimed at protecting unborn children from harm.

The initiative is the result of recommendations from the NSW Ombudsmen to support mothers early on in their pregnancies.

Parents with history of drug abuse, mental health issues and domestic violence will be targeted, with caseworkers assigned to expectant mothers.

Community Services Minister Kevin Green says it is about protecting the most vulnerable groups in the community.

“By finding the best ways to provide support for those mothers early on, so we can reduce the number of heartbreaking decisions that see newborn children placed into care after their birth,” he said.

“Recent statistics show parental mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse are the fastest growing factors in NSW child protection reports.”

Mr Green says case workers will be assigned to monitor mothers and very young babies deemed at risk.

“The case workers will work with maternity health providers to identify mothers who are vulnerable and may be suffering from mental health issues or drug and alcohol problems,” he said.

“We’ll then work with those mothers and mental health providers to support them.”

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Excellent program tonight on the ABC about Carers and the life time struggle that they have in front of them.

Here is the link to the ABC website:


Here is the NSW DOCS response to a lot of the claims in the programme:


One (thinking outside the box) suggestion to help the situation:

Perhaps Aged Care facilities could establish seperate wings for the young that need constant care. They could set up separately from the Aged Care and have permanent and respite beds for those carers that need a break. These wings wouldnt be integrated with the Aged Care Units, but run as seperate Units.

What does anyone else think about this and will the first Labor budget tomorrow night fix any of the problems?

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Canada bans ‘cancerous’ baby bottles

Canada has become the first country to announce a ban on baby bottles made with Bisphenol-A, a controversial synthetic chemical linked to some forms of cancer.

Bisphenol-A is a compound found in some hard, clear plastics and resins such as baby and water bottles, drink containers, and the liners in metal cans.

Some studies have found that even at low doses the chemical can increase breast and ovarian cancer cell growth, as well as some prostate cancer cells in animals.

The Federal Health Department began reassessing Bisphenol-A last November, after research showed the chemical is leaching from products such as baby bottles.

The Health Minister says for the now the ban will include the import and sale of baby bottles containing the chemical, since infants are more sensitive to its effects.

Major retailers including Wal-Mart, Sears and London Drugs say they will rid their stores of the products.

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Intervention staff possibly exposed to formaldehyde: Macklin

Sue Gordon, Jenny Macklin and Dave Chalmers at today's press conference.

Sue Gordon, Jenny Macklin and Dave Chalmers at today’s press conference. (Jack Kerr)

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Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has revealed almost 30 staff involved in the Northern Territory intervention into Aboriginal communities have possibly been exposed to high levels of formaldehyde.

In a snap visit to Darwin, Ms Macklin says she was informed last night that shipping containers where emergency response staff have been living may have high levels of formaldehyde.

Over 50 intervention staff may have been exposed, and staff have been contacted overnight and now have alternative accommodation.

Ms Macklin says staff have been living in the containers since October and there have been complaints as far back as November about an odour in the containers.

Ms Macklin says there have been complaints of headaches and runny eyes among some staff and she has requested a report as soon as possible.

Intervention chief Major General David Chalmers says the containers are in 23 Top End communities across the Territory, but there is no risk to the wider community.

A spokeswoman for police has confirmed officers have been told to seek alternative accomodation until the full extent of the potential formaldehyde poisoning is known.

Then Northern Territory Education Department says it doesn’t use shipping containers for accommodation and the NT Justice Department says its checking whether any converted shippping containers it plans to use at Berrimah jail in Darwin are affected.

The Department says its containers aren’t operational yet and no prisoners have stayed in them.

The 23 affected communities are Angurugu, Arlpurrulam, Belyuen, Bulla, Bulman, Galiwinku, Gapuwiyak, Gunbalanya, Maningrida, Milikapiti, Minjilang, Minyerri, Nauiyu, Nguiu, Ngukurr, Numbulwar, Peppimenarti, Pirlangimpi, Warruwi, Umbakumba, Yarralin and Yirrkala.

Formaldehyde can cause cancer

An expert in toxicology says long-term exposure to the chemical formaldehyde can cause cancer.

Professor Michael Moore, director of the National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology in Queensland, says the chemical could have come from insulation inside the containers.

“The insulation can actually break down when there’s a great deal of heat or the insulation is getting old and that would result in higher levels of formaldehyde in the containers.”

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Breast cancer drug to be added to PBS

Australian women with advanced breast cancer will have cheaper access to the drug Tykerb from next month.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the drug will soon be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Ms Roxon says the medicine currently costs patients up to $4,000 each month.

“That’s a lot of money for most people to try to find and impossible for some,” she said.

“Putting it on the PBS means it will be available just with the general co-payment that patients pay and will put it within reach of many, many women who might otherwise not have been able to get this drug.”

Meanwhile, Ms Roxon says Government-subsidised immunisations will be spared from any budget cuts.

She has launched an updated immunisation guide for health workers and parents, five years since the previous guide, and she says it is an important step in preventative health.

Ms Roxon says she has guaranteed existing immunisation funding will not be touched in the May budget.

“There’s no plans for us to be cutting any funding to immunisation programs,” she said.

“These are well-established parts of the health system, they’ve been strongly supported by Liberal and Labor governments in the past; this is core work for us.”

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