In the United States, high cholesterol is a rather prevalent problem. In fact, approximately 94 million American individuals age 20 and older have what can be referred to as borderline high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.
You might not even be aware that you have this ailment until you see your doctor, though, as it frequently manifests without any obvious symptoms.
Read on for all the answers to your questions regarding the reasons of high cholesterol, what to do if you have been diagnosed with it, and whether or not it is possible to reverse it.
What is cholesterol?
Lipids include cholesterol. Your liver makes this waxy, fat-like substance on its own. It is essential for the production of some hormones, vitamin D, and cell membranes.
As cholesterol does not dissolve in water, it cannot independently move through your blood. Your liver generates lipoproteins to aid in the transportation of cholesterol.
Particles called lipoproteins are comprised of protein and fat. They transport triglycerides, a different kind of lipid, and cholesterol through your bloodstream. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein are the two main types of lipoprotein (HDL).
Low-density lipoproteins carry any cholesterol, which is referred to as LDL cholesterol. You might be given a high cholesterol diagnosis if your blood has an excessive amount of LDL cholesterol. High cholesterol can cause a number of health problems, such as heart attacks and strokes, if left untreated.
Symptoms of high cholesterol are rarely present at first. This is why it’s crucial to have your cholesterol levels checked frequently.
High cholesterol symptoms
High cholesterol is typically a “silent” disease. It normally causes no symptoms. Many people don’t even aware they have high cholesterol until they have major side effects like a heart attack or stroke.
Because of this, routine cholesterol screening is crucial. Ask your doctor if you should undergo regular cholesterol screening if you are 20 years of age or older.
Causes of high cholesterol
Consuming an excessive amount of meals high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats may raise your chance of getting high cholesterol. Obesity can also raise your risk. Smoking and inactivity are two more lifestyle choices that might raise cholesterol.
Your likelihood of getting high cholesterol may also be influenced by your heredity. Parents pass on their genes to their offspring. Your body receives instructions from specific genes on how to digest lipids and cholesterol. You may be more likely to develop high cholesterol if your parents do.
Familial hypercholesterolemia is a rare cause of elevated cholesterol. Your body is unable to eliminate LDL due to this hereditary condition. According to the National Human Genome Research InstituteTrusted Source, most persons with this illness have total cholesterol levels above 300 milligrams per deciliter and LDL levels above 200 milligrams per deciliter.
The chance of acquiring high cholesterol and associated consequences may also be increased by other medical diseases like diabetes and hypothyroidism.
LDL cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol”
LDL cholesterol is frequently referred to as “bad cholesterol.” It delivers cholesterol to your arteries. LDL cholesterol can accumulate on the lining of your arteries if your levels are too high.
Cholesterol plaque is another name for this accumulation. This plaque can cause artery narrowing, reduced blood flow, and an increased risk of blood clots. A heart attack or stroke can result from a blood clot blocking an artery in the heart or brain.
HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol”
“Good cholesterol” is another name for HDL cholesterol. It aids in transporting LDL cholesterol back to the liver for elimination from the body. This aids in preventing the buildup of cholesterol plaque in your arteries.
Healthy HDL cholesterol levels can help reduce your risk of blood clots, heart disease, and stroke.
Triglycerides, a different type of lipid
Another kind of lipid is triglycerides. They are distinct from cholesterol. Triglycerides are a source of energy for the body, whereas cholesterol is used to create cells and certain hormones.
Triglycerides are created when you consume more calories than your body can immediately utilize. It accumulates triglycerides in your fat cells. Triglycerides are also transported throughout the bloodstream via lipoproteins.
Your triglyceride levels could get too high if you consistently consume more calories than your body can burn. Your chance of developing a number of illnesses, such as heart disease and stroke, may increase as a result.
Your doctor can check your cholesterol and triglyceride levels with a quick blood test.
Risk factors for high cholesterol
You may be at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol if you:
- are living with obesity
- consume a lot of saturated and trans fats, like those found in fast food
- have limited physical activity
- smoke tobacco products
- have a family history of high cholesterol
- have diabetes, kidney disease, or hypothyroidism
- People of all ages, genders, and ethnicities can have high cholesterol.
How to prevent high cholesterol
You can’t control the genetic risk factors for high cholesterol. However, lifestyle factors can be managed.
To lower your risk of developing high cholesterol:
- Eat a nutritious diet that’s low in cholesterol and animal fats, and high in fiber.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
- Maintain a moderate weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid smoking.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for routine cholesterol screening. If you’re at risk of high cholesterol or coronary heart disease, they will likely encourage you to get your cholesterol levels tested on a regular basis.