What is High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy and fat-like substance that is produced by the liver and is mostly found in the lipids (fats) in your blood. The body needs cholesterol to continue building of cell membranes, vitamin D, and some type hormones, but having the high amount of cholesterol might increase the risk of heart diseases. The excess of cholesterol level may leads in the development of fatty deposits in blood vessels (Arteries) that is called atherosclerosis. The buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) can narrow the arteries and make it difficult for enough blood to run through them. As a result, your heart might not get sufficient amount of oxygen-rich blood as it requires and sometimes it leads to inflammation and blood clotting that enhances the possibilities of a heart attack and strokes.
Particles acknowledged as lipoproteins (the combination of protein present in blood and cholesterol) help in transporting cholesterol via the bloodstream. There are two main types of lipoproteins.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol” transports cholesterol elements all over the body. It builds up in the arteries, making them narrow and hard and may lead to heart attack or stroke.
- High-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good cholesterol” helps in giving back the excess level of LDL cholesterol to the liver for exclusion. It helps in lowering the risk of heart problems.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol usually does not cause any symptoms instead it causes emergency events in most of the cases such as stroke or heart attack. So the only way to diagnose high cholesterol is a blood test, known as lipid panel the retest can be done after every 4-5 years. Since high cholesterol gives any early symptoms, it is vital to choose healthy lifestyle choices and regular checkup of cholesterol levels. Doctors may suggest frequent cholesterol checks if you are suffering from high blood pressure, have the family history of high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia), smoke or are overweight.
Factors that Affect Cholesterol Levels
There are various factors that affect cholesterol levels such as:
- Poor eating habits
- Family history
- Being inactive
Harmful Effects of High Cholesterol
The buildup of plague in the walls of arteries due to high cholesterol can cause several harmful effects. Some of the harmful effects of high Cholesterol are:
- Coronary Artery Disease: If the coronary arteries that transfer blood to your heart get affected by high cholesterol you may experience symptoms of coronary artery disease such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue etc.
- Heart Attack: if a piece of plaque ruptures, a blood clot forms around the plaque that can block the flow of blood to the heart muscles and divest the heart from oxygen and essential nutrients. Due to lack of oxygen and proper blood flow, the heart gets damaged that position is called heart attack
- Stroke: If the blood supply to important part of your brain is blocked or reduced due to the blood clot caused by plague, a higher risk of stroke occurs.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease: the Peripheral artery disease happens when the plaque blocks the flow of blood in arteries that deliver blood to the kidneys, stomach, arms, legs, and feet.
How to lower Cholesterol Level?
A heart-healthy lifestyle together with medicines can lower your cholesterol level and prevent you from heart strokes and attacks. Some of the healthy lifestyle ideas are
- Consume low-salt diet and eat healthy food such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains
- Exercise regularly to be fit.
- Lose extra pounds if you need to and keep a healthy weight
- Try to quit smoking
- Limit the quantity of saturated and trans fats and avoid consuming red-meat and full-fat dairy products.