Cholesterol: Risk Factors, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosed and Treatment


What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance your liver makes to secure nerves and to make cell tissue and certain hormones. Your body likewise gets cholesterol from the nourishment you eat. This incorporates eggs, meats, and dairy. An excessive amount of cholesterol can be terrible for your health. There is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol

Differentiate between “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol?

Good cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Which removes cholesterol from the bloodstream? Bad cholesterol is known as Low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

If your total cholesterol level is high because of a high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) level, you may be at higher risk of heart stroke. But, if your overall cholesterol level is high only because of a high HDL (high-density lipoprotein) level, you may be not at higher risk.

Changing your diet and exercise may improve your cholesterol levels, lower LDL and triglycerides, and raise HDL.

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Your ideal cholesterol level will depend on your risk for heart stroke.

  • Total cholesterol level – less than 195 is best, but it depends on your HDL and LDL levels.
  • LDL cholesterol levels – less than 125 is best, but this depends on your risk for heart stroke.
  • HDL cholesterol levels – 65 or higher reduces your risk for heart disease.

Symptoms of high cholesterol

There are no specific symptoms of high cholesterol. You may have high cholesterol and you not know that you have cholesterol. High cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to know if you have cholesterol or not.

If you have high cholesterol, your body may store the extra cholesterol in your arteries. These are blood tubes that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. A buildup of cholesterol in your arteries is known as plaque. Over time, plaque can become hard and make your arteries narrow. Large deposits of plaque can completely block an artery. Cholesterol plaques can also break apart, leading to the formation of a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood.

A blocked artery to the heart can cause a heart attack. A blocked artery to your brain can cause a stroke.

Many people don’t discover that they have high cholesterol until they suffer one of these life-threatening events. Some people find out through routine check-ups that include blood tests.

What causes high cholesterol?

Your liver produces cholesterol, but you also get cholesterol from food. Eating too many foods that are high in fat will excess your cholesterol level.

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Being obese (overweight) and inactive is also causes high cholesterol. If you are obese (overweight), you most likely have a higher level of triglycerides. If you are not active in general, it can lower your HDL which is good cholesterol.

Your family history also affects your cholesterol level. Research has shown that high cholesterol tends to run in families. If you have an immediate family member who has it, you could have it, too.

Smoking also causes high cholesterol. Smoking lowers your HDL (good cholesterol).

How is high cholesterol diagnosed?

You cannot tell if you are having high cholesterol without having checked it. Cholesterol level can be check through a simple blood test.

Men with the age of 30 years and older and women with age of 40 years and older should have their cholesterol level checked in every 3 months. Men and women with age of 20 years and older who have risk factors for heart disease should have checked their cholesterol. Teens may need to be checked if they are taking certain medicines or having a family history of high cholesterol.

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Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Smoking.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Older age.
  • Having a family member who has had heart disease.
  • Obesity (overweight).

Can high cholesterol be prevented or avoided?

Eating healthy food and exercising are the two ways to decrease your risk of developing high cholesterol.

Avoid fewer foods with saturated fats such as red meat and most dairy products and also avoid foods that contain trans-fat such as fried and packaged foods. Eat healthier fats such as lean meats, avocados, nuts, and low-fat dairy items. And also look for foods which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, herring, walnuts, and almonds. Some egg brands contain omega-3.

Exercise daily. Go for a walk. Take a yoga class. Set an aim to get 40 minutes of activity every day.

High cholesterol treatment

If you are having high cholesterol, you may need to make some changes in your lifestyle. If you smoke, quit it. Do regular exercise. If you are having obesity (overweight), losing just 5 to 8kgs can improve your cholesterol levels. Make sure to eat a lot of organic products such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish.

Depending on your risk factors, your doctor may prescribe medicine and lifestyle changes.

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