Metabolic Health

High Cholesterol

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

What is High Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like lipid that is produced in the liver naturally. It is essential as it is needed for the production of certain hormones, cell membrane formation, and Vitamin D. The food we eat contains cholesterol, hence its presence at normal levels is good for the body. But if the levels are too high it can put a person at a high risk of heart diseases. Different types of cholesterol are, HDL or good cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol. The HDL levels should be high and the LDL levels should be low. When the LDL levels are high it is termed as high cholesterol.

High Cholesterol Symptoms

High cholesterol is a silent killer and does not show any symptoms. In many of the cases where high cholesterol is not detected, it leads to emergency events like a stroke or a heart attack. But these events happen only when the arteries are blocked by plaques. These result in the narrowing of the blood vessels and cause complications.

The only way to know if a person has high cholesterol is to get regular check-ups. Blood tests are enough to know the levels of this lipid. Get your cholesterol checked every 4 to 5 years after you reach 20 years to know if the levels are in the normal range.

2.Who is at Risks?

High cholesterol risk factors that are uncontrollable are:

  • A person with a family history of high cholesterol is at a higher risk of this condition.
  • A woman after menopause is likely to have a higher bad cholesterol level and hence has a risk of heart disease.
  • Men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 have high chances of high cholesterol thus at risk of heart diseases.

Controllable risk factors are:

  • Diabetes or high blood pressure patients
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Following unhealthy food habits
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Smoking and consumption of alcohol.

3.High Cholesterol Causes

Having certain types of high cholesterol raises the chances of having a heart attack or heart disease. When there is high LDL, the fat starts to deposit on the walls of the arteries, narrowing it and restricting the movement of blood. When the blood flow is restricted it can lead to many serious complications. Things that cause high cholesterol are:

  • Consuming foods like meat, cheese, etc in high quantities
  • Consuming saturated fats that are present in fried, processed, baked foods. It is also present in dairy products, chocolate and meat.
  • Intake of trans fats through fried and processed foods.
  • People who have an inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolemia have high LDL.
  • Obesity or excess weight
  • Drugs like corticosteroids, progestins, etc
  • PCOS, kidney or liver disease
  • Diabetes can cause heart attack
  • Underactive thyroid

4.How is High cholesterol diagnosed?

High cholesterol shows no symptoms and hence everyone who has reached the age of 20 and above should get a High cholesterol test once every few years. That will help them to know the levels and reduce them in case it is high. A simple blood test called the lipid profile is enough for High cholesterol diagnosis and to assess the levels of cholesterol. It helps to determine the LDL, HDL, triglycerides level, and total cholesterol level.

After the test is performed the High cholesterol doctor will do a physical exam by checking the heart rate, blood pressure, and heartbeat. If the doctor finds that the patient is at risk of heart disease further tests are asked to be performed. That includes EKG, stress test, Echocardiogram, tilt table test, and more.

5.How is High cholesterol treated?

High cholesterol treatment depends on the risk factors after which High cholesterol cure is recommended by the doctor:

  • Medicine for high cholesterol which helps to keep the levels of cholesterol to a normal range. That aids in preventing other complications that leads to heart diseases and heart attack.
  • Lifestyle changes include cutting down on foods that contain high amounts of saturated and trans fat. Reducing body weight and adopting a healthy lifestyle of exercise and nutritious diet.
  • Adding more plant stanols and sterols which keeps the HDL in normal levels and reducing LDL.

6.How can High cholesterol be prevented?

High cholesterol that is genetically inherited cannot be controlled, but High cholesterol prevention is recommended.

  • Following the dietitian’s instructions on food
  • Consuming a diet that is nutritious with low animal fat, saturated or trans fat.
  • Include omega 3 fatty acids in your diet by including nuts like walnut, flax seeds, and salmon, trout, and sardines.
  • Limiting consumption of fried, processed and sugary foods
  • Quit smoking and consuming too much alcohol.
  • Avoid smoking
  • Exercise especially aerobic exercise for at least 3 to 4 times a week.
  • Maintain a normal weight
  • Take medications regularly
  • Follow recommendations of regular cholesterol checks if you are at risk of heart disease.

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