High Cholesterol: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

high cholesterol and heart diseases

When was the last time you had your cholesterol levels checked? Cholesterol is a fatty substance essential for the production of vitamin D, cell membranes, proper digestion, and much else.

The liver makes most of the cholesterol you need, but it’s also found in many foods. Unfortunately, high levels of cholesterol in your system could cause you to develop heart diseases and other related complications.

Types Of Cholesterol

There are two major kinds of cholesterol:

HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein)

This is a good kind of cholesterol, and it actually helps to protect you from developing coronary heart diseases.

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LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein)

This is often known as bad cholesterol, which is dangerous to your health because it accumulates in fatty deposits in your arteries, known as plaques, and increases your risks of developing coronary heart disease.

People with high blood cholesterol feel fine and may have no symptoms, therefore go on living their life unaware of the danger they are in. It is advisable you take time to visit your doctor and have your cholesterol levels measured. Blood tests known as lipid panel are the best for measuring cholesterol.

What Causes High Cholesterol Levels?

High levels of bad cholesterol are risky because eventually, the waxy substance in your blood will accumulate in the blood vessels, making it difficult for adequate blood to flow through your arteries.

In some cases, the fatty deposits break off and form clots in the blood, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

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High blood cholesterol is sometimes a heritable condition, but most often it is as a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. The good news is that high cholesterol is preventable and treatable.

Factors Influencing Bad Cholesterol Levels

high cholesterol prevention and treatment
Image credit: Heart.org

Factors that increase your risk of bad cholesterol are:

Poor diet

Saturated fat in animal products and trans fats in commercially made food such as baked crackers, cookies, microwave products like popcorn, deep-fried fast foods, takeaway foods like pizza and hamburgers, among others, can raise your cholesterol to dangerous levels.

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Other foods like red meat or full-fat dairy products can also spike your cholesterol levels.

Obesity

Unfortunately, if you have a body mass index (BMI) of above 30, you are at significant risk of developing high cholesterol complications.

Lack of exercise

Working out is good for your health. It helps boost your HDL levels, which is the good cholesterol, and burns off the bad cholesterol.

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Smoking

Smoking cigarettes weakens your blood vessels’ walls, making them prone to accumulating fatty deposits, which makes the arteries carry less blood and may cause blood pressure issues.

Cigarettes also reduce the HDL levels in your blood.

Age

As you grow older, your body’s chemistry changes, and your risks of developing high cholesterol increase. Your liver weakens with age and may not effectively remove LDL cholesterol from your blood system.

Diabetes

High blood sugar damages the lining of your arteries and leads to the production of dangerous cholesterol known as VLDL (Very Low-Density Lipoprotein).

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Complications Of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol may cause complications like:

Chest pains

When your coronary arteries block or weaken due to the accumulation of fatty deposits, you may develop chest pains, among other coronary heart disease symptoms.

Heart attack

When part of the plaques break off, blood may clot in that area, resulting in the blocking of blood flow and causing a heart attack.

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Stroke

When a piece of plaque breaks off, it may block blood from flowing to your brain, leading to a stroke.

Prevention And Treatment Of Bad Cholesterol

To prevent your body from developing high cholesterol, you should do the following:

Quit smoking

Nicotine is harmful to your health, and quitting will greatly improve your overall health too.

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Exercise often

There is no shortcut. You must work out regularly to burn the fats in your bloodstream. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, as recommended by the NHS. Losing a few extra pounds may save your life.

Watch your diet

You have to cut down on your intake of processed food. Instead, eat more low salt diets, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Conclusion

Cardiovascular diseases are among the leading cause of early death all over the world and these diseases are caused by high cholesterol levels especially LDL (the bad cholesterol). The good news is that high cholesterol can be treated effectively. Your life is more precious to us!

Image Credit: CBSNews

The medical information provided in this article is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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