High Cholesterol? Things You Should Know

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Did you know?

75% of your total cholesterol is naturally formed by your liver.

Most people ignore the symptoms of high cholesterol or don’t get them checked regularly. Cholesterol is a waxy lipid that is also essential for the formation of cell membranes, hormones, etc. However, if your cholesterol level rises beyond certain limits, it may lead to the development of health issues, especially cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks. It can lead to the formation of plaques in the walls of your arteries, reducing the proper flow of blood.

Types of Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) & high-density lipoprotein. When you get your cholesterol level checked, your report may contain the following measures:

LDL: This is the bad cholesterol and if it breaches its normal range (Less than 100mg/dL), the risk of coronary artery diseases and other cardiovascular diseases increases. Too much LDL leads to the formation of plaques which narrow your arteries and prevent the proper flow of blood.

HDL: This is the good cholesterol that is essential to remove HDL and should be in the range of 35 to 65 mg/dL for men and 35 to 80 mg/dL for women.

Total Cholesterol: This is the combined reading of HDL and LDL. Its normal range is as follows- Normal: Less than 200 mg/dL, Borderline high: 200 to 239 mg/dL, High: At or above 240 mg/dL

Triglycerides: These are a type of fat in the blood. If it crosses its normal range {150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)}, you may be at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

VLDL: It stands for very low-density lipoprotein and is also bad cholesterol. Its normal range is between 2 and 30 mg/dL.

Symptoms of High Cholesterol

Mostly, high cholesterol doesn’t come with a warning sign. However, if left untreated, a person with high cholesterol may have a heart attack, high blood pressure, develop diabetes, pain in the chest, stroke, etc.

Causes of High Cholesterol

  • Eating foods high in cholesterol, saturated fats, etc.
  • Excess fat on your body
  • Inactivity, lack of physical exercise
  • Smoking
  • Genetic predisposition where certain genes are passed from parents to the child. Hence, if your parents have/had high cholesterol, you too may have it.
  • Diabetes and thyroid may also increase your risk of high cholesterol

Implications of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol can lead to the development of plaque in your arteries and reduce the proper flow of blood. This results in atherosclerosis which will further cause blood clots. Due to this, you face life-threatening complications such as:

  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Various other vascular diseases

Diagnosis of High Cholesterol

Your doctor will conduct a blood test to determine if you have high cholesterol levels. Moreover, he may even do a physical examination and inquire about your family history.

Treatment of High Cholesterol

Certain lifestyle modifications such as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet can significantly reduce your cholesterol levels. However, if you have certain pre-existing diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc., your cholesterol level may remain high. In such situations, your doctor may recommend certain medications such as:

Statins: It is used to stop a substance that is needed by the liver to make cholesterol. Hence, the liver is able to remove excess cholesterol from the blood.

Cholesterol inhibitors: There are certain drugs (ezetimibe) that can be used to prevent your small intestine absorb cholesterol from your diet.

Along with these, there are few medications available to treat high triglycerides:

Fibrates: Medicines such as fenofibrate and gemfibrozil can reduce the production of VLDL and remove triglycerides from the blood.

Niacin: This drug reduces the liver’s ability to produce VLDL and LDL. But it has some serious side effects such as damaging your liver, risk of strokes, etc.

Omega-3 fatty acid: This supplement has been shown to reduce your triglyceride levels and enhance your HDL cholesterol.

Lifestyle modifications to lower cholesterol levels

  • Do not intake food high in cholesterol, trans fats or saturated fats such as red meat, egg yolks, dairy products
  • Include lean sources of protein and foods high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid excess consumption of fast foods, packaged items and sugary drinks
  • Exercise regularly to lower your LDL and enhance HDL levels.

When should you go for a cholesterol checkup?

An adult should get his cholesterol levels checked at least once a year. However, those with a family history of high cholesterol should get it checked more often.

Ayurveda and High Cholesterol

Various Ayurvedic practices such as dietary modifications, supplements such as ashwagandha and stress management techniques such as breathing exercises (pranayama) have also shown remarkable results in managing cholesterol levels.

Disclaimer

This blog has been written after performing in-depth secondary research related to the topic from various articles, blogs, and journals with expertise in writing for healthcare. The content on this page should not be considered a substitute for medical expertise.

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