The Negative Side Effects of High Cholesterol Levels
Did you know that high cholesterol affects approximately 42 million Americans? A more alarming fact is that 63 million more have borderline high cholesterol. With these facts, it is vital for us to know about what high cholesterol is all about.
Cholesterol is a lipid substance that is primarily of important use in order for the body to carry out its normal functions. This fatty substance is mainly produced by the liver but can also be obtained from the different foods that we eat. However, the supposed good effects of cholesterol is being overshadowed by the bad effects that it causes to our body due to high levels of it being consumed. Having an excessive amount of lipids in your blood, what we call as hyperlipidemia, can have a bad effect on our overall health. But, what we should keep in mind is that having high cholesterol alone does not cause the symptoms, what it does is that it predisposes you to develop serious medical conditions.
The cholesterol is transported in your blood by proteins. By the time that these two combine, they are then called lipoproteins. There are two different kinds of lipoproteins that may be harmful or protective of our overall health and well being. These are the Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) most commonly known as the “bad cholesterol” and the High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) most commonly known as the “good cholesterol.” Why is the LDL considered as bad cholesterol? The LDL’s function is to carry cholesterol from your liver to the cells that need it. However, if these cells have already too much cholesterol for usage, it may tend to build up in the artery walls that eventually results to certain diseases affecting the arteries. Because of this reason, the LDL is thought of as the bad cholesterol. On the other hand, the good cholesterol, HDL, is regarded as such because it is the one that caries the cholesterol away from the cells and then back to the liver where these are either broken down or released by the body as a waste product. From this reason, it is called good cholesterol and having higher levels of HDL is good for the body. It is important that the HDL and LDL levels are monitored regularly. This is done by undergoing a blood test.
If one has high cholesterol, it increases the chances for that person to develop several diseases such as atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), heart attack, stroke or Ischemic attacks. Studies have proven that excess cholesterol levels build up in the artery wall thus restricting blood flow to the heart, brain, and the rest of your body. It also poses as a risk for developing clots that may cause other medical risks. If you have high blood cholesterol levels, it also follows that your risk for having coronary heart diseases rises as well. Coronary heart diseases happen as a result of a diminished blood supply to your heart.
What are the causes of high cholesterol? There are many factors to consider that may result to high cholesterol and, in turn, a rise in the chances of developing heart problems. These include the following:
Eating an unhealthy diet – This is basically on the top list of how people acquire high cholesterol levels. Remember that there are some foods that already contain dietary cholesterol. What we should watch out is the amount of saturated fats that these foods contain.
Excessive smoking – Aside from eating an unhealthy diet, smoking also has proven to support in the increased levels of cholesterol in the body. The chemical acrolein, found in cigarettes, inhibits HDL from transporting LDL to the liver therefore resulting to a narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
Diabetes or Hypertension – Having either one of these diseases may result to developing high cholesterol.
Family History – If ever you have a family member that has stroke or any heart disease, chances are, you have a tendency of having high cholesterol as well that will ultimately lead to having heart diseases in the future. However, there is a medical condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia that can be inherited. Once a person inherits this disease, despite the person eating a healthy and well balanced diet, he or she will still have high cholesterol levels.
Thus, it is important to monitor our blood cholesterol levels to make sure that we maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The important question that we should think through is: when should one test his or her cholesterol levels? It is highly recommended that a person should have his or her blood cholesterol levels tested if the person has been diagnosed with coronary artery diseases, stroke, Ischemic attacks, or peripheral artery diseases. If your age is over 40, you should have your blood cholesterol levels checked as well. Since family history plays an important role in the development of high cholesterol levels, it is thus vital that you should regularly test your blood cholesterol levels. Also, if you have problems with controlling you weight, like obesity, you should monitor your cholesterol levels to make sure that you are not in danger of having high cholesterol. Lastly, if you are diagnosed to have hypertension, diabetes or any condition that may give rise to cholesterol levels, you should have you blood cholesterol levels monitored.
So, how can we lower cholesterol levels? The first step to do in order to achieve this is by incorporating a healthy and well balanced diet. Basically, the diet should be low in fats, specifically saturated fats. Instead, he or she should consume lots of vegetables, fruits as well as whole grain products. By eating these kinds of food, not only will it lower cholesterol levels, it will also prevent it from returning. Apart from diet change, it is also vital that lifestyle changes should be implemented as well. With this, a person should stop and quit smoking altogether as well as live an active way of life. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise is directly linked to the reduction of the risk of heart disease. Keep in mind that these changes do not only help with this particular disease, it will also help with many other diseases that continue plague our existence. By committing to these lifestyle modifications, rest assured, you will be able to live a better and fuller life