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High Cholesterol: Overview, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Team AckoDec 15, 2022

According to Indian research, 25 to 30% of urban and 15 to 20% of the rural population has elevated cholesterol levels. Warning: you may be one among them! The fact that a sharp increase in cholesterol levels has been seen in the last 20 years adds to the concerns. Read on to learn about the causes, types, symptoms and management of High Cholesterol.

High Cholesterol

Contents

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What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance. Humans need cholesterol to produce hormones, vitamin D, and compounds that help digestion. Additionally, cholesterol is ingested through meals.

Types of cholesterol

Cholesterol is an oil-based substance. It travels throughout the body on lipoproteins. Blood doesn't mix with it since water makes up most of it. Two different forms of lipoprotein typically transport cholesterol. They are as follows.

1. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is the so-called "bad" or harmful cholesterol. LDLs are in charge of cutting off the heart's blood flow. If your blood LDL level is high, you run a higher risk of developing ailments.

2. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), sometimes known as "good" cholesterol, is a form of high-density lipoprotein. To get to the liver from other parts of the body, HDLs carry cholesterol. The liver then eliminates the cholesterol from the body. Having enough HDL in your blood might reduce your risk of heart diseases.

The combined amount of cholesterol in your blood (made up of LDL and HDL) is referred to as your total cholesterol level.

Causes of High Cholesterol

Here’s a list of causes of High Cholesterol. 

  • Eating too many cholesterol-rich, saturated-fat-rich, and trans-fat-rich meals may increase your risk of developing High Cholesterol. So, eat properly to be healthy!

  • Obesity might also increase your vulnerability.

  • Inactivity and smoking are two major lifestyle factors that may elevate cholesterol levels.

  • Children inherit their parents' genes. Specific genes govern how the human body handles cholesterol and fats. So, if your parents had High Cholesterol, you may be more likely to have it as well!

  • Certain medical disorders, such as diabetes, renal illness, or hypothyroidism, may raise the risk of cholesterol.

Symptoms of High Cholesterol

People suffering from High Cholesterol can experience many symptoms. The most common ones are as follows. 

  • Chest  discomfort 

  • Numbness  in their hands and legs 

  • Tingling sensations 

  • Shortness  of breath

  • Disorientation

  • Brain fog

If you have any of these symptoms, you must have your blood cholesterol levels checked.

High Cholesterol complications

When there is excessive cholesterol in the blood, it can mix with other molecules to form plaque. Plaque forms on the inside walls of your arteries and blocks the blood flow to the heart muscles. This plaque formation is known as atherosclerosis.

  • It can cause cardiac problems such as coronary artery disease, which causes your coronary arteries to tighten or get clogged.

  • If left untreated, a blockage in the heart arteries can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as stroke, heart attack, angina (chest discomfort), high blood pressure, peripheral vascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and gallbladder stones.

  • According to studies, elevated cholesterol levels increase a person's odds of having a heart attack within the following ten years.

How is High Cholesterol diagnosed?

If your total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol levels are abnormally high, your doctor may diagnose you with High Cholesterol. You may have High Cholesterol if your LDL levels are too high and your HDL levels are too low.

Because a person with High Cholesterol levels may not exhibit any symptoms, frequent screening and regular blood testing is the only way to detect excessive levels. A person who does not have periodic blood tests may get a heart attack without warning. Regular testing can help to lessen this risk.

How to avoid High Cholesterol

Here is a list of lifestyle modifications you may do to avoid acquiring High Cholesterol.

  • Lifestyle changes: A heart-healthy diet, weight control, and regular physical activity are the keys to avoiding major cholesterol-related issues.

  • Diet changes: Your doctor may urge you to eat lean proteins such as chicken, fish, and lentils. Consume a variety of fibre-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Rather than fried stuff, go for baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, or roasted food items. Avoid fast food and sugary, pre-packaged items. Bhindi, beans, almonds, walnuts, soybeans, legumes, and chickpeas are some everyday items that are good for high-cholesterol patients.

  • Medicines: You may need to take medicine in addition to making lifestyle modifications. Statins are a kind of cholesterol-lowering medication that is commonly used. 

  • Awareness: Detailed family history and awareness of other health concerns can go a long way towards preventing High Cholesterol.

Ways to treat High Cholesterol

The good news is that High Cholesterol levels can be reduced, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. 

  • Watch what you eat: Reduce your consumption of saturated and trans fats to lower your cholesterol. To reduce these fats, restrict your consumption of red meat and dairy products manufactured with whole milk. Instead, go for skim milk, low-fat or fat-free dairy products. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a heart-healthy diet.

  • Exercise regularly: The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week to reduce cholesterol levels. Take a regular brisk stroll during your lunch break, use stairs instead of lifts, and participate in a sport you love!

  • Quit smoking: Smokers who stop smoking can reduce their LDL cholesterol while increasing their HDL cholesterol. It also aids in the protection of their arteries.

  • Drink in moderation: If you consume alcohol, do it in moderation. 

  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese raises bad cholesterol while decreasing good cholesterol. However, even a 5% to 10% weight decrease can help reduce cholesterol levels.

Frequently asked questions

Here is a list of common questions and their answers related to High Cholesterol.

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What is the normal range of cholesterol?

Total cholesterol levels in men and women over the age of 20 should be between 125 and 200 mg/dl. Total cholesterol should be less than 170 mg/dl in youngsters aged 19 and under.

Should I get my cholesterol levels checked regularly?

Doctors recommend that younger persons get a cholesterol test every 5 years, while men aged 45 to 65 and women aged 55 to 65 should get their blood levels examined every 1 to 2 years. If you are 20 or older, the American Heart Association recommends getting your cholesterol levels checked every 4 to 6 years.

My father has High Cholesterol. Am I at risk?

Many variables, including heredity, can influence cholesterol levels in the blood. If you have a close family member who has High Cholesterol, you are more likely to have it as well. Your doctor may encourage you to have your cholesterol levels examined more regularly if you have a family history of High Cholesterol or if you have specific health conditions.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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