High cholesterol is a pretty common problem among the people of the United States. Close to 94% of youngsters and adults above the age of 20 are at a high risk of high cholesterol and heart diseases. And thus, it is the leading cause of heart attack and several serious heart problems in the US. You need to understand what is high cholesterol, symptoms, causes, and treatment to understand how risky it is for your overall health, and especially heart health.
Maintaining a healthy balance of cholesterol in your body is important. Lifestyle and genetics are the main factors that can cause high cholesterol problems in individuals. If you are stuck between the highs and the lows of cholesterol, here is a detailed guide on everything you need to learn about cholesterol.
What Is High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance with a wax-like texture present in our bodies. Our liver is responsible for creating this substance in our bodies, and the rest of it comes from our food. It is essential for the body as it helps create the structure of our cell membrane. Furthermore, it helps regulate the hormones in our bodies, such as testosterone, estrogen, and adrenal.
There are two types of cholesterol present in our body known as LDL and HDL. The low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also called bad cholesterol, clogs the arteries by sticking to the walls. However, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good cholesterol, is responsible for carrying the cholesterol to the liver. If your overall cholesterol level is high because of LDL, then there is a high risk of you suffering from a stroke or serious heart disease. However, if it is high because of HDL, you are not at a higher risk level.
A high level of LDL in the body can stop blood flow to the arteries. And thus, it can cause a heart stroke. Also, this condition barely shows any symptoms in the early stages. Therefore, it is important to get the level of cholesterol checked in your body regularly.
What Are High Cholesterol Symptoms
There are no visible or recognizable symptoms of cholesterol. The only way you can know that your cholesterol level is high is through a blood test.
In most cases, people don’t know their cholesterol level is high until after they have suffered a stroke. If your cholesterol is high, your body will store all the excess cholesterol in the arteries. Arteries are responsible for carrying oxygen and blood to and from your heart. And if the arteries are blocked, it will narrow down the space for blood to pass through.
The build-up in the arteries is referred to as plaque. And with time, plaque can harden in your arteries. Once these cholesterol plaques break due to your body’s natural healing system, they form clots. These clots can permanently stop the blood from reaching the heart. And once this happens, it can lead to a heart stroke. If the plaque blocks the brain arteries, it can also become the reason behind a brain stroke. So, routine blood tests and check-ups are the best way to take care of your heart and brain health. It will ensure that your cholesterol levels are balanced and not at a life-threatening stage.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
Your body is already responsible for producing cholesterol within it. And the remaining amount can be taken from your food. However, adding too many high cholesterols, trans fat, and saturated fat foods to your diet can increase the chance of high cholesterol levels. For instance, foods such as full-fat dairy, shellfish, eggs, desserts, fried food, and many more are examples of edibles that can take cholesterol levels to dangerous stages.
Additionally, if you are overweight or have an inactive lifestyle, then you can easily have high cholesterol problems. Other factors that can add to this problem are smoking, alcohol, age, and an idle lifestyle.
Genetic factors are also often responsible for developing cholesterol issues. If your family has a history of high cholesterol or heart problems, it can be passed down to you. The passed-on genes tell your body to process fats and cholesterol in a certain way. If your parents have any such problem, you may also be at a higher risk of inheriting it.
In very few cases, the reason behind high cholesterol can be familial hypercholesterolemia. It is a genetic problem that stops your body from removing the bad cholesterol. Other problems that can cause high cholesterol are hypothyroidism and diabetes.
less than 200 mg/dL
240 mg/dL and above
According to the NLM (National Library of Medicine), adults should be measured based on these chart levels.
When To Get Checked For High Cholesterol?
As per the NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) directives, an individual should go for their cholesterol level testing at the age of nine to eleven. And after that, you should go for testing after every five years.
NHLBI also suggests that once men reach the age of forty-five to sixty-five and women fifty-five to sixty-five, they should get tested every year. And if you are above the age of sixty-five, then you should get checked every half year.
However, if the results of your tests are not normal, then the doctor might suggest different ways to get your cholesterol level under control. The doctor can also suggest more regular tests to keep your cholesterol level and health in check. Further, if you have a family history involving the severe heart and high cholesterol issues, the doctor recommends more tests. A doctor can also suggest more tests for other problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes.
What Are The Risk Factors Involved With High Cholesterol?
Without proper treatment on time, plaque and build-up can cause your arteries to choke or narrow down the passage for blood. It is a serious problem as it can restrict the flow of blood to and from your heart through arteries. It can also lead to the production of dangerous clots of blood.
High cholesterol and blocked arteries can lead to many alarming and life-threatening problems, such as
- Chest pain
- Peripheral vascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Long-term kidney diseases
High levels of cholesterol can also lead to bile imbalance in the body. Bile imbalance can increase the risk of gallstones in the body.
Excess cholesterol can also block the arteries, which can cause a brain stroke. It can lead to damaged brain parts, memory loss, speaking and swallowing problems, and moving around. So, high cholesterol levels pose a significant threat to your overall health, and thus it is important for you to get it checked regularly.
How Are High Cholesterol Levels Diagnosed?
You need a blood test to determine whether your cholesterol level is normal or high. The doctor will check your lipid or lipoprotein profile to determine your cholesterol levels. To get the test, you need to avoid eating or drinking anything for nearly ten to twelve hours or even more before going for the test. Generally, people have dinner and skip breakfast the next day to take the test.
Individuals above the age of twenty or older who are at risk of high cholesterol should have their cholesterol levels checked often. Teenagers taking a specific type of medicine or are obese need to be tested. When you go for a test, make sure to ask your doctor about how often you should get your cholesterol levels tested.
Is It Possible To Avoid High Cholesterol?
It is possible to avoid the risk of having a high cholesterol problem with healthy lifestyle choices. Making healthy choices and working out or exercising regularly can reduce the risk of developing cholesterol problems.
In addition, you should avoid eating foods with high calories, saturated, and trans fat. Saturated fat-based food includes full dairy products and red meat. Rather, you should opt for fruits and vegetables, like low-fat dairy products, lean meat, nuts, and avocado. Keep away from food products that are high in trans fat, like packed and fried food. Rather go for foods that have high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. This category involves food items like almonds, salmon, walnuts, and herring. There are also some types of eggs that are rich in Omega-3.
You don’t have to indulge in one of those high-intensity workouts. Instead, you can go for regular jogs or go on your bike to your nearby park. You can also play some light sports. Make sure to get at least thirty minutes of physical work every day. And if you are overweight, losing five to ten pounds of your weight can change the levels of cholesterol in your body significantly.
What Is The Treatment For High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol treatment includes different approaches based on the individual’s condition. The first and most important thing that doctors suggest is lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes include changes in diet, workout habits, and everyday routines. The doctors will also advise you to quit alcohol and smoking habits.
And in certain cases, they will also prescribe some medicines to help you lower your cholesterol. And also refer you to get specialist care.
Reducing Cholesterol Levels Through Diet
The changes to the diet plan may include:
- Eating lean proteins like fish, chicken, and legumes instead of red meat.
- Adding a large number of high-fiber foods to the diet, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Limiting food with trans and saturated fats.
- Choosing boiled, baked, roasted, and broiled foods as a substitute for fried dishes.
- Removing pre-packed and sugary foods from the diet completely.
- Food rich in Omega-3 like flaxseeds, salmon, avocados, almonds, etc.
Saturated and trans fats food that you should avoid:
- High-fat dairy
- Cookies and cakes
- Potato chips
- Cocoa butter
- Red meat
- Palm oil
Reducing Cholesterol Level Through Medicines
When the cholesterol levels are too high, that is when a doctor prescribes medication to lower it. The most common medicine that doctors prescribe is Statins. These medicines are responsible for stopping the liver from producing cholesterol.
Some medicines also have combined drugs to lower the cholesterol absorption level of our body. One example of a combination medicine is simvastatin and ezetimibe.
We hope this blog helps you answer all your questions, including what is high cholesterol, symptoms, causes, treatment. In the majority of cases, cholesterol shows no signs and can lead to severe health problems like heart or brain stroke. So, you should get yourself tested to keep a check on your health.
At Apprize medical, you can get the best medical assistance from our experts. We offer customized nutrition programs to all our patients. We also have the best technology for the diagnosis of any problem. The use of modern and conventional medicine is done along with personalized programs to target specific problems, which helps us achieve the best results. If you want to get tested or live a cholesterol-free quality life, then book your appointment with us today.
What kind of symptoms can high cholesterol cause?
Generally, the symptoms are not visible, but a few symptoms of high cholesterol include
- High blood pressure
- Chest pains
- Other heart problems
What is the main cause of high cholesterol?
The main cause of high cholesterol levels includes being overweight, alcohol, fatty foods, staying idle for long, and genetics.
How can I control my cholesterol symptoms?
You can control your cholesterol by eating low-fat foods and working out regularly.
- Lowering your alcohol intake level.
- Quitting smoking altogether.
- Eating lean meats
- Working out for half an hour a day
- Losing extra weight
- Limit animal-based fats
- Adding more vegetables, grains, and fruits