High Cholesterol: Introduction, Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and More

High-Cholesterol

According to the British Heart Foundation high cholesterol is a substance that your liver makes, and it’s necessary for your body. It is also called hypercholesterolemia means too much LDL or total cholesterol in your body. This can happen if you eat a lot of fatty foods. Other reasons for it include genetic conditions like familial hypercholesterolemia, stress, not being active on certain medicines and some health problems. So this article talks about why cholesterol can get high, what healthy levels are for adults, and ways to keep your cholesterol levels in check.

What is High Cholesterol?

It is found in every cell of the body and is made by the body itself. So people also get it from the food they get. So it’s an oily substance that doesn’t mix with blood, which is watery. It has four major jobs:

  • It helps build cell walls
  • It makes up digestive bile acids in the intestine
  • It helps the body produce vitamin D
  • It enables the body to make certain hormones

What are the Types of High Cholesterol?

It travels around the body in lipoproteins. So there are three main types:

  • Low density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • High density lipoprotein (HDL)
  • Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)

It’s also important to consider triglycerides and total of it:

Triglycerides:

This is a type of fat that the body uses for energy. High triglycerides levels, along with high LDL or low HDL can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Total Cholesterol:

This includes the total amount of  LDL and HDL and triglyceride levels in the blood.

 What are the Symptoms of High Cholesterol?

It typically does not cause symptoms on its own, which is why it’s often referred to as a silent condition. However, its levels can contribute to the development of other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease. Symptoms of the cardiovascular disease may include:

  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Coldness in the legs and arms
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper, abdomen, or back
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating

If you have risk factors for it or cardiovascular disease, such as a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, it’s essential to monitor your levels of it regulatory through blood tests and consult with a healthcare provider for proper management and prevention of complications.

What are the Causes of High Cholesterol?

The foods are high in saturated and trans fats can contribute to high levels of it. Some examples include:

  • Fatty meats
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods
  • Baked goods
  • Palm oil and coconut oil
  • Processed meats
  • Commercially baked goods

Limiting intake of these foods and opting for healthier alternatives can help manage it levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. So focus on incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats like those found in nuts, seeds, and olives oil into your diet. It can be caused by various factors, including:

Genetic Features:

Some people have it due to their genes. Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited disease where individuals have increased levels of LDL.

Dietary Factors:

A diet high in fat can lead to high levels of it. It’s helpful to limit foods that contain:

  • Cholesterol
  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fats

Several factors can contribute to it levels, including:

Psychological Stress:

Psychological Stress may also play a role in raising levels of it. Some studies have found a link between high levels of work stress and elevated LDL and total of it.. However, more research is needed to confirm this connection.

Sedentary Lifestyle:

People who have a sedentary lifestyle, spending more time sitting and using the screens, may have higher levels of bad LDL and total level of it. Conversely, those who engage in more physical activity tend to have a higher level of good HDL.

Medications:

Certain medications can affect lipid levels in the body. Common medications that may contribute to higher total and LDL levels and lower HDL levels include cardiovascular medications, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, hormones, certain immunosuppressive, SGLT2 inhibitors used to treat diabetes, progestin, anabolic steroids, and corticosteroids.

Health Conditions:

Certain health conditions can increase the risk of developing a high level of it. These include:

Other Risk Factors:

Certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of having it levels. These include:

  • Excess weight or obesity
  • Age
  • Smoking

What are the Risk Factors of High Cholesterol?

Factors that can increase your risk of unhealthy level of it include:

  • Poor diet
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Age
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Gallstones
  • Pancreatitis

Overall, untreated cholesterol significantly increases the risk of developing serious cardiovascular and other health complications. So it’s essential to monitor and manage it levels through lifestyle changes, medications, and regular medical check-ups to reduce these risks.

What is the Diagnosis of High Cholesterol?

The diagnosis of  levels is typically done through a blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. Here’s what to expect during the diagnosis process:

  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol
  • Triglycerides
  • Blood test
  • Blood sample
  • Analysis
  • Results
  • Discussion

It’s essential to follow any instructions provided by your healthcare provider before the blood test, including fasting requirements to ensure accurate results. Additionally, regular screenings of it are recommended, especially if you have risk factors for it and heart disease.

What is the Treatment of High Cholesterol?

The treatment typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes and in some cases, medications. Here’s an overview of the treatment options. Such as:

  • Lifestyle Changes
  • Healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Weight management
  • Quit smoking
  • Medications
  • Statins
  • Other cholesterol-lowering medications
  • Regular monitoring
  • Lifestyle supports

Treatment of it is individualized based on factors such as overall health, risk factors, for heart disease and response to treatment. So it’s essential to work closely with healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan.

What are the Complications of High Cholesterol?

It can cause a dangerous accumulation of it and other deposits on the walls of your arteries. So these deposits can reduce blood flow through your arteries, which can cause complications. Such as:

  • Angina
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

What are the Preventions of High Cholesterol?

Understanding the causes of it can help people lower or manage their level of it:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Achieving and maintaining a moderate weight

Since 2018, new guidelines have encouraged doctors to discuss additional factors with individuals that may increase their risk of it, such as:

  • Family history and ethnicity
  • Certain health conditions like chronic kidney disease or chronic inflammatory conditions.
  • Considering these factors can lead to a more personalized approach to treating and preventing high cholesterol levels.

What are the Levels and Ranges of High Cholesterol?

It is a major risk factor of coronary heart disease and can lead to heart attacks. Cholesterol buildup is part of a process called atherosclerosis where plaques and narrow arteries, restricting blood flow. To manage levels of it, doctors recommended keeping total LDL levels of it within specific ranges. It is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The table below outlines the potential levels  of it recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

Types of High Cholesterol Optimal High Cholesterol Levels
“LDL” bad cholesterol About 100 mg/dL
“HDL” good cholesterol At least 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women
Total cholesterol About 150 mg/dL

What do Expect in a Cholesterol Test?

During the test of it is also known as a lipid profile you can expect the following:

  • Fasting
  • Blood sample
  • Testing
  • Results
  • Discussion

It’s important to follow any instruction provided by your healthcare provider before the test, including fasting requirements, to ensure accurate results.

What is a High Cholesterol Test?

A test also known as a lipid panel or lipid profile is a blood test that measures the levels of it and other fats in your blood. So this test helps assess your risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a heart attack. Specifically, the test measures:

  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL
  • LDL
  • Triglycerides

The test is typically performed after fasting for 9-12 hours to obtain accurate results. Your healthcare provider will interpret the results and discuss any necessary risks of heart disease.

What Foods Reduce High Cholesterol?

Several foods can help lower levels of it when included as part of a healthy diet. So these foods are include:

  • Oats
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Seeds
  • Fatty fish
  • Plant-based oils
  • Soy products

Incorporating these foods into your diet along with reducing intake of saturated and trans fats, can help improve it levels and support heart health. It’s also important to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking to help lower it levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

What is the High Cholesterol Ratio?

The ratio of it is a measure of the balance between different types of it in the blood, specifically the ratio of the total level of it by your HDL  level. The ratio of it is important because it provides additional information about cardiovascular health beyond individual levels of it. A higher ratio indicates a higher risk of heart disease while a lower ratio indicates a lower risk. Here’s how the ratio of it’s affect the body and why it’s important:

  • Risk of heart disease
  • Assessment of cardiovascular risk
  • Guiding treatment

So doctors calculate an individual’s ratio of it, dividing their total cholesterol by their high-density lipoprotein level. The optimal ratio is between 3.5 and 1. A higher ratio increases the risk of heart disease.

What is the High Cholesterol Good Ratio vs. High Cholesterol Bad Ratio?

The ratio of it refers to the ratio to HDL (good) in the blood. So this ratio is used as a marker of cardiovascular health, with lower ratios indicating a lower risk of heart disease. Let’s break down what constitutes a good and bad cholesterol ratio.

High Cholesterol Good Ratio:

  • A good ratio of it typically refers to a lower ratio indicating that HDL levels of it are relatively higher compared to total levels of it.
  • A describe the ratio of it is often considered to be less than 3.5:1, meaning that for every 3.5 unit of total level of it there is 1 unit of HDL.
  • Having a lower ratio of it is associated with reduced risk of heart disease because higher levels of HDL are protective against cardiovascular complications.

High Cholesterol Bad Ratio:

  • A bad ratio of it typically refers to a higher ratio indicating that HDL levels are relatively lower compared to total levels of it.
  • A higher ratio of it especially above 5:1 or 6:1 is associated with an increased risk of heart disease because it suggests higher levels of LDL and total relative to HDL.

So high levels of LDL contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. The good cholesterol ratio is characterized by a lower ratio, indicating higher HDL levels of it relative to total level of it, while a bad ratio of it is characterized by a higher ratio, indicating lower HDL levels of it relative to total level of it. Maintaining a healthy ratio of it through lifestyle changes and if necessary medical interventions can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications.

FAQs:

Does stress increase high cholesterol?

Ye, stress can make your cholesterol levels go up. When you’re stressed your body releases hormones that can raise your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels. Stress can also lead to unhealthy habits like overeating or not exercising which can raise it over time. Chronic stress can have a bigger impact on it levels and increase your risk of heart disease.

Can alcohol cause high cholesterol?

Yes, drinking too much alcohol can contribute to it.  Alcohol can increase levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, which can lead to higher total cholesterol levels. Additionally, excessive alcohol can also lead to weight gain and liver damage both of which can negatively affect it levels.

How do you reduce cholesterol in your body?

You can reduce your levels of it in your body by making healthy lifestyle changes and, if needed, taking medications as prescribed by your doctor. So here are some ways to it:

  • Healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol
  • Medications

Can I eat rice with high cholesterol?

Yes, you can eat rice if you have it, but it’s important to make healthy choices. While some studies suggest that eating white rice may not be ideal for cholesterol level, choosing whole grain varieties can be a better option. So whole grain rice adds more fiber and nutrients to your diet, which may help manage the levels of it.

What is the best drink to lower cholesterol?

So here are some drinks that could help it:

  • Green tea
  • Soy drinks
  • Oat drinks
  • Tomato juice
  • Berry smoothies
  • Drink containing sterols and stanols
  • Coca drinks
  • Plant milk smoothies

How can I lower my cholesterol in seven days?

So here are some tips to cut your cholesterol fast. Such as:

  • Ban trans fats
  • Scale back
  • Get moving
  • Fill up on fiber
  • Go fish
  • Opt for olive oil
  • Go nuts
  • Chill out
  • Spice it up
  • Butt out
  • Laugh more

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