What is high cholesterol
High cholesterol is characterized by high amount of cholesterol in the blood.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. With high cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels.
Types of cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good” cholesterol.
- LDL stands for Low-density lipoprotein which is also known as “bad” cholesterol because a high amount of LDL level leads to buildup of cholesterol in your arteries (atherosclerosis).
- HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein which is also known as “good” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body.
Things that can affect your LDL level
- Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat raises your cholesterol level.
- Weight. Obesity raise your LDL level, lower HDL level, and subsequently increase your total cholesterol level.
- Physical activity. Reduced physical activity can cause you to gain some weight and may subsequently raise your LDL level.
- Smoking. Cigarette smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol which may result in an increase in LDL level.
- Age and sex. As women and men gets older, their cholesterol levels rise.
- Genetics. Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High cholesterol can run in families. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an inherited form of high blood cholesterol.
- Medicines. Certain medicines, including steroids, some blood pressure medicines, and HIV/AIDS medicines, can raise your LDL level.
- Other medical conditions. Diseases such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS can cause a higher LDL level.
- Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high blood cholesterol.
What is cholesterol test
A cholesterol test is a blood test which measures the amount of each type of cholesterol and certain fats in your blood. Cholesterol test is highly useful and can help measures:
- LDL level. Also know as the “bad” cholesterol, LDL is the main source of blockages in the arteries.
- HDL level. Also known as “good” cholesterol, HDL helps get rid of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
- Total cholesterol. This is the combined amount of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in your blood.
- Triglycerides. This is a kind of fat found in the blood. It mainly consist of glycerol and fatty acids.
- VLDL level. Very Low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) is another type of “bad” cholesterol.
Symptoms of high cholesterol
High cholesterol has no symptoms and it requires a medical diagnosis. Some of the common symptoms which may be experienced include:
- Aortic aneurysm
- Heart attack
- Peripheral artery disease
- Chest pain
Foods rich in saturated fats
Foods that are rich in saturated fats will raise your cholesterol level to an abnormal level. Some of these foods include:
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Full fat diary products (such as milk, cream, cheese, and yogurt
- Deep fried fast foods
- Processed foods (such as biscuits and pastries)
- Takeaway foods (such as hamburgers and pizza)
- Coconut oil
Cholesterol and diabetes, how are they related?
According to webmd.com diabetes can upset the balance between HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. People with diabetes tend to have LDL particles that stick to arteries and damage blood vessel walls more easily. Glucose (a type of sugar) attaches to lipoprotein (a cholesterol-protien package that enables cholesterol to travel through blood). Sugarcoated LDL remains in the blood stream longer and may help plaque form. People with diabetes can have low HDL and high triglyceride (another kind of blood fat) levels. Both of these boost the risk of heart and artery diseases.
How to reduce high cholesterol naturally
Reducing cholesterol has to do more with your lifestyle. Lifestyle changes can help lower your “bad” cholesterol and improve your high-density cholesterol level. Some of the ways to lowering your cholesterol level include:
- Eating heart-healthy foods
- Quit smoking
- Lose weight
- Reduce your alcohol intake
High cholesterol treatments include medication, a healthy diet and exercise.
- Physical exercise
- Low-fat diet
- Cholesterol medication
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