What is high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is when your blood is high in cholesterol. It is mainly caused by a high-fat diet, not getting enough exercise, being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol. It is also hereditary.
You can lower your cholesterol by eating healthier and exercising more. Some medications must also be taken.
This can clog your blood vessels. This could put you at risk for heart problems or stroke.
It does not cause symptoms of hypercholesterolemia. You can only find out if you have it through a blood test.
Why is high cholesterol bad for you?
Take non-HDL cholesterol from the liver into the cells of your body. Too bad (not HDL) cholesterol is harmful because it sticks to the inner walls of the arteries. This leads to the formation of fatty material (atheroma); This process is called atherosclerosis. This makes it difficult for blood to flow, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
If your total cholesterol is high, it means that you have very bad (not HDL) cholesterol in your blood. Good cholesterol (HDL) helps control and remove bad cholesterol from your body.
Types of high cholesterol
Cholesterol is transported throughout the body through lipoproteins. There are 3 types:
- Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are called bad cholesterol because they form fats in the blood vessels. High levels can cause disease of the arteries and the heart.
- High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are called good cholesterol because they can remove fats from the blood and protect against disease.
- Very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) are particles in the blood that carry triglycerides.
Causes of high cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, many factors increase your chances of heart problems or a stroke.
In addition to:
- Unhealthy diet, inappropriate, eating high levels of full fat
- Smoking: Acrolein, a chemical found in cigarettes, stops the transport of cholesterol from fat deposits to the liver, causing atherosclerosis (atherosclerosis)
- You have diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension)
- You have a family history of heart disease
There is also a hereditary condition called familial hypercholesterolemia. It also causes high cholesterol in healthy eaters.
Risk factors for high cholesterol
The risk of high cholesterol increases with age. It is more common in men. It is also more common in women after menopause.
Factors that increase your risk of hypercholesterolemia, include:
- Family members with high cholesterol
- A high-fat diet
- Excess weight
- An inactive lifestyle
Symptoms of high cholesterol
The largest people with high cholesterol have no symptoms until cholesterol-related atherosclerosis makes an important reduction of the arteries reaching the heart or brain. The issue can be heart-related chest pain (angina) or other symptoms of coronary artery disease, as well as symptoms of reduced blood supply to the brain (transient ischemic attacks or stroke).
About 1 in 500 people has an acquired disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia, which produces very hypercholesterolemia levels (more than 300 milligrams per deciliter). People with this disease can occur cholesterol-filled nodules in various ligaments, especially in the Achilles tendon of the lower leg. Cholesterol deposits also occur on the eyelids, where they are called xanthelasma.
Diagnosis of high cholesterol
A blood test to check cholesterol levels, also known as a lipid panel or lipid profile, usually reports:
- Total cholesterol
- LDL cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol
- Triglycerides — a type of fat in the blood
For the most accurate measurements, do not eat or drink anything (other than water) for 9 to 12 hours before taking a blood sample.
Treatment for high cholesterol
Cardiologists, electrophysiologists, and other cardiologists treat high cholesterol through lifestyle changes, medications, or a combination of both. There are some lifestyle changes we recommend:
- Eating a low-sodium diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Increasing physical activity
- Limiting saturated and trans-fats
- Managing weight
- Replacing fatty meats with cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines
- Quitting smoking
If a healthy lifestyle is not enough, or if your high cholesterol is due to a family history of high cholesterol, we may prescribe a single drug or multiple drugs to control your high cholesterol. These drugs lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol and protect you from serious or malignant heart conditions.
Choosing healthy foods and exercising can lower your risk of high cholesterol.
Eat a diet low in saturated fat (such as red meat and most dairy products). Choose healthy fats. These include lean meats, avocados, nuts, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid foods that contain trans fats (such as fried and packaged foods). Look toward foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These foods include salmon, herring, walnuts, and almonds. Some brands of eggs contain omega-3s.
Exercise is easy. Go for a walk. Take a yoga class. Ride your bike to work. You can also participate in team sports. Try to be active for 30 minutes each day.
If left untreated, high cholesterol can increase plaque in the arteries. Over time, this plaque can narrow your arteries. This condition is called atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a serious disease. It restricts the blood flow through the arteries. It also increases the risk of dangerous blood clots.
Atherosclerosis can lead to many life-threatening complications:
- Heart attack
- Angina (chest pain)
- High blood pressure
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Chronic kidney disease
High cholesterol also creates a biliary imbalance, which increases the risk of gallstones. Look for other ways that high cholesterol can affect your body.
- Controlling high cholesterol levels is a lifelong challenge. Despite the treatment plan, regular blood tests may be required to monitor cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels.
- Controlling cholesterol is important in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. It is part of the risk reduction strategy, which includes smoking cessation, weight control, blood pressure control, and exercise.