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Cholesterol and triglycerides: An introduction

CPD Hours



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Community and primary health care


Cholesterol, naturally produced in the body and present also in some foods, is essential for several important bodily processes.

However, abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides can be harmful.

It is estimated that up to one in three Australian people have abnormal or high cholesterol levels – hyperlipidaemia, which is a major risk factor for the development of chronic disease and in particular - cardiovascular disease [5].

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death around the world, currently affecting approximately 4.2 million Australians and costing the Australian healthcare system an estimated $12 billion every year [9].

This module is relevant to nurses caring for adult patients in a variety of healthcare settings, including primary, acute, and residential care.

As an introduction to cholesterol and triglycerides, we discuss the importance of cholesterol testing and pharmacological and non-pharmacological management of hyperlipidaemia, for reducing and preventing cardiovascular disease risk.

Learning Objective

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

  • Explain the normal physiology of cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Define hyperlipidaemia, its causes, and associated risks.
  • Describe indications and requirements for testing of cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Outline the assessment and diagnosis of hyperlipidaemia.
  • Discuss the non-pharmacological and pharmacological management of hyperlipidaemia.

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