- What is cholesterol, exactly?
- Symptoms of high cholesterol
- Causes of high cholesterol
- LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol,
- A different form of lipid is triglycerides.
- Having your cholesterol levels checked is a good idea.
- Chart of cholesterol levels
- High cholesterol risk factors
- High cholesterol complications
- How do you lower your cholesterol?
- Dietary cholesterol reduction
- Medications to lower cholesterol
- Home remedies to lower cholesterol naturally
- How To Prevent High Cholesterol
In the United States, high cholesterol is a rather prevalent problem. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source estimates that approximately 94 million Americans aged 20 and up have borderline high cholesterol.
However, because this ailment often manifests without obvious symptoms, you may not realize you have it until you see a doctor.
If you’re curious about what causes high cholesterol, what to do if you’ve been diagnosed with it, and whether or not it’s possible to reverse it (hint: it can), keep reading.
What is cholesterol, exactly?
Cholesterol is a lipid that is found in the body. It’s a waxy, fat-like material produced naturally by your liver. It is required for cell membrane development, the production of some hormones, and the absorption of vitamin D.
Because cholesterol does not dissolve in water, it cannot pass through your bloodstream on its own. Lipoproteins are produced by your liver to aid in the transport of cholesterol.
Lipoproteins are fat and protein-based particles. They transport cholesterol and another form of lipid, triglycerides, through your bloodstream. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are the two main types of lipoprotein (HDL).
Any cholesterol transported by low-density lipoproteins is referred to as LDL cholesterol. You may be diagnosed with high cholesterol if your blood contains too much LDL cholesterol. High cholesterol, if left untreated, can cause a variety of health problems, including heart disease.
Symptoms of high cholesterol are uncommon at first. It’s for this reason that you should have your cholesterol levels examined on a regular basis.
Symptoms of high cholesterol
High cholesterol is usually a “quiet” problem. It doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. Many people are unaware that they have high cholesterol until they have significant consequences like a heart attack or stroke.
That’s why it’s critical to get your cholesterol checked on a regular basis. Ask your doctor if you should undergo a routine cholesterol check if you’re over the age of 20. Find out how this screening could help you save your life.
Causes of high cholesterol
Consuming too many cholesterol-rich, saturated-fat-rich, and trans-fat-rich foods may raise your chance of having high cholesterol. Obesity can also make you more vulnerable. Inactivity and smoking are two more lifestyle variables that might contribute to elevated cholesterol.
Your genetics may also play a role in the development of high cholesterol. Parents pass on their genes to their children. Your body receives instructions from certain genes on how to metabolize cholesterol and lipids. If one or both of your parents have high cholesterol, you may be at a higher risk of developing it as well.
Familial hypercholesterolemia is a rare cause of elevated cholesterol. Your body is unable to remove LDL due to this hereditary condition. According to the National Human Genome Research InstituteTrusted Source, most people have total cholesterol levels above 300 milligrams per deciliter and LDL levels above 200 milligrams per deciliter.
Other medical disorders, such as diabetes and hypothyroidism, also raise your risk of high cholesterol and its complications.
LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol
LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad cholesterol,” is a kind of cholesterol that is produced by the liver.
LDL cholesterol is frequently referred to as “bad cholesterol.” It transports cholesterol from your liver to your arteries. LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries if your levels are too high.
Cholesterol plaque is another name for this accumulation. Plaque can restrict your arteries, reduce blood flow, and increase your risk of blood clots. A heart attack or stroke can occur when a blood clot plugs an artery in your heart or brain.
HDL cholesterol is sometimes called good cholesterol. It helps return LDL cholesterol to your liver to be removed from your body. This helps prevent cholesterol plaque from building up in your arteries.
When you have healthy levels of HDL cholesterol, it can help lower your risk of blood clots, heart disease, and stroke.
A different form of lipid is triglycerides.
Another form of lipid is triglycerides. They’re not the same as cholesterol. While cholesterol is used to produce cells and some hormones, triglycerides are used as a source of energy.
When you consume more calories than your body can utilize straight away, those calories are converted to triglycerides. Triglycerides are stored in fat cells. Triglycerides are also circulated through your bloodstream through lipoproteins.
Your triglyceride levels may grow too high if you eat more calories than your body can utilise on a regular basis. This can put you at risk for a variety of illnesses, including heart disease and stroke.
A simple blood test can be used by your doctor to determine your triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Having your cholesterol levels checked is a good idea.
The American Heart Association trusted Source suggests having your cholesterol levels examined every 4 to 6 years if you’re 20 or older. If you have a history of high cholesterol or other cardiovascular disease risk factors, your doctor may advise you to have your cholesterol levels checked more frequently.
A lipid panel can be used by your doctor to check your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. The total amount of cholesterol in your blood is known as your total cholesterol level. It consists of both LDL and HDL cholesterol.
Your doctor may diagnose you with high cholesterol if your total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol levels are too high. High cholesterol levels can be harmful.
Chart of cholesterol levels
When you’re diagnosed with high cholesterol, it doesn’t imply you’ll be put on medicine right away. If your doctor does decide to give you medicine, there are a number of factors that could impact the sort of drug they prescribe.
With this in mind, most doctors make treatment decisions based on broad parameters. These measurements may be classified as good, borderline high, or high cholesterol.
Most adults’ total cholesterol can be classified as follows, according to the National Library of Medicine:
|less than 200 mg/dL||desirable|
|200-239 mg/dL||borderline high|
|240 mg/dL and above||high|
The National Library of Medicine also provides optimal to high categories of LDL cholesterol levels:
|LDL cholesterol levels Category less than 100 mg/dL optimal 100-129 mg/dL near optimal 130-159 mg/dL borderline high 160-189 mg/dL high 190 mg/dL and above very high|
These figures are, once again, approximate. Other personal aspects will be considered by you and your doctor before settling on a treatment strategy.
Guidelines for maintaining a healthy cholesterol level have just been released.
To function effectively, your body need some cholesterol, including some LDL. However, if your LDL levels are too high, you run the risk of developing major health problems.
The American College of Cardiologists and the American Heart Association modified their cholesterol therapy recommendations in 2018Trusted Source.
Treatment recommendations under the revised guidelines consider other risk factors for heart disease, such as family history and other health concerns, in addition to your cholesterol levels. All of these characteristics are taken into account by the guidelines when calculating a person’s overall risk of having difficulties during the next ten years.
High cholesterol risk factors
If you: are obese consume a lot of saturated and trans fats, such as those found in fast food have little physical activity smoke tobacco products have a family history of high cholesterol have diabetes, kidney disease, or hypothyroidism, you may be at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol.
High cholesterol can affect people of various ages, genders, and ethnicities.
High cholesterol complications
High cholesterol, if left untreated, can cause plaque to build up in your arteries. This plaque might constrict your arteries over time. Atherosclerosis is the medical term for this illness.
Atherosclerosis is a dangerous disease. It has the potential to reduce blood flow via your arteries. It also increases your chances of acquiring life-threatening blood clots.
Atherosclerosis can lead to a variety of life-threatening consequences, including:
a heart attack angina (chest pain) hypertension
chronic kidney disease peripheral vascular disease
High cholesterol can cause a bile imbalance, which can lead to gallstones. See how elevated cholesterol can affect your body in other ways.
How do you lower your cholesterol?
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may advise you to make adjustments to your lifestyle to help lower it. They may suggest adjustments to your food, exercise routines, or other areas of your daily routine, for example. They will almost certainly urge you to quit smoking if you do.
To assist lower your cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend drugs or other treatments. They may send you to a specialist for further treatment in some circumstances.
Dietary cholesterol reduction
Your doctor may suggest dietary adjustments to help you attain and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
They may, for example, urge you to:
eat a wide variety of high fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains;
limit your intake of foods rich in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats;
choose lean protein sources, such as chicken, fish, and legumes;
Instead of frying, choose baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, or roasted dishes.
When possible, avoid fast food and sugary, pre-packaged foods.
Foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, or trans fats include:
red meat, organ meats, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy products are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats.
cocoa butter or palm oil-based processed foods
meals that have been deep-fried, such as potato chips, onion rings, and fried chicken
certain baked items, such as cookies and muffins;
Eating fish and other omega-3-fatty-acid-rich foods may also help lower your LDL levels. Salmon, mackerel, and herring, for example, are high in omega-3s. Omega-3s can also be found in walnuts, almonds, ground flaxseeds, and avocados.
Medications to lower cholesterol
Your doctor may recommend drugs to help you lower your cholesterol levels in some instances.
The most typically given drugs for elevated cholesterol are statins. They prevent your liver from creating any additional cholesterol.
Statins include: atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), and simvastatin (Simvastatin) (Zocor).
Your doctor may also prescribe other medications for high cholesterol, such as:
bile acid resins or sequestrants, such as colesevalam (Welchol), colestipol (Colestid), or cholestyramine
Inhibitors of cholesterol absorption, such as ezetimibe (Zetia)
PCSK9 inhibitors like alirocumab and evolocumab (Praluent) (Repatha).
Some products contain a mix of medications that help your body absorb less cholesterol from diet while also lowering cholesterol synthesis in your liver. A combination of ezetimibe and simvastatin is one example (Vytorin). Find out more about the medications that are used to treat high cholesterol.
Home remedies to lower cholesterol naturally
You may be able to lower your cholesterol levels without using medicine in some situations. It may be sufficient, for example, to consume a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and refrain from smoking tobacco products.
Some people also believe that using specific herbal and nutritional supplements can help them lower their cholesterol levels.
For example, there have been accusations made about:
blond psyllium, found in psyllium seed husk
red yeast rice
plant sterol and stanol supplements
The quality of evidence supporting these claims, however, differs. Furthermore, none of these products have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of excessive cholesterol. To find out if they can help treat this illness, more research is needed.
Before taking any herbal or nutritional supplements, always consult your doctor. They may interact with other medications you’re taking in some situations.
How To Prevent High Cholesterol
The hereditary risk factors for high cholesterol are uncontrollable. Lifestyle variables, on the other hand, can be controlled.
Eat a balanced, low-cholesterol, low-animal-fat diet that is high in fiber to reduce your risk of getting high cholesterol.
Limit your alcohol consumption.
Keep your weight in check.
Exercise on a regular basis; avoid smoking.
For routine cholesterol screening, follow your doctor’s advice. If you’re at risk for high cholesterol or heart disease, they’ll probably recommend that you have your cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis.
The majority of the time, elevated cholesterol causes no symptoms. High cholesterol, on the other hand, if left untreated, can lead to major health problems. The good news is that your doctor can assist you in managing this illness and, in many circumstances, preventing consequences.
If you’re 20 years or older, ask your doctor to test your cholesterol levels to see if you have high cholesterol. Inquire about your treatment choices if you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol.
Practice healthy lifestyle behaviors and stick to your doctor’s treatment plan to reduce your chance of high cholesterol issues.
A good cholesterol level can be achieved and maintained by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco products. It may also assist to reduce your chances of developing complications as a result of your condition.
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