The AHA advises getting your cholesterol checked if you are over 20 so that you can determine your levels and take the necessary steps. If cholesterol is high, your doctor may recommend further diagnosis.
High cholesterol level is often hereditary since it runs in families. On the other hand, other lifestyle factors, including diet, exercise, and weight, also affect it. As a result, people with high cholesterol are more likely to have heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease. Unfortunately, high cholesterol puts a lot of adults at risk. The onset can be as early as their 20s and increase with age.
A blood test is the only way to know how high your cholesterol levels are. But first, we need to know what “high” cholesterol is and how to avoid it.
This article will thoroughly examine the causes of high cholesterol, what to do if you have been diagnosed with it, and the effective ways to reduce cholesterol while maintaining healthy levels.
Cholesterol – An Overview
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and found in every body cell. It is necessary to produce vitamin D, synthesise hormones, form cells, and produce the bile acids that aid in food digestion. The liver produces almost 75% of the cholesterol your body needs; the rest of you can get it from foods like dairy and red meat.
The human body needs cholesterol to make healthy cells. Having too much of it can increase the risk of heart disease. When the body has excessive amounts of fat, which results in artery blockage, heart disease, and other health problems may occur. Therefore, anybody over 20 must get their cholesterol checked at least once every five years. And you can discuss it with your doctor, who can help you control it.
If that’s the case, a personalised diet plan will help you maintain a healthy cholesterol level, improve your health, and achieve your fitness goals. For example, you can reduce your cholesterol with the help of HealthifyMe.
With more than 25 million users, HealthifyMe is the most popular health and fitness platform. Based on insights from doctors, nutritionists, and fitness instructors, the app helps manage several prevalent lifestyle diseases.
Moreover, it offers easy-to-implement eating and fitness programmes. Furthermore, it has a built-in calorie tracker. In addition, the HealthifyMe app has a tracker for tracking your meals, exercise, water intake, sleep, and weight loss.
Types of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a kind of lipid. The liver makes lipoproteins to transport cholesterol, lipids, and triglycerides through the bloodstream.
The two primary lipoproteins that carry cholesterol are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). To simplify, these are the combinations of lipids and proteins.
“Bad” Cholesterol or LDL Cholesterol (LDL-C)
Low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, carry most cholesterol in the blood. This cholesterol is “bad” because it combines with other substances to form fatty deposits, called plaques, in your arteries.
Read more: Cholesterol Diet Plan – Types, Symptoms and Foods to Eat
LDL cholesterol rises when people consume a diet high in trans and saturated fats. Most people are healthy if their LDL level is below 100. However, heart disease patients may need medication to lower their LDL levels.
“Good” Cholesterol or HDL Cholesterol (HDL-C)
High-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good” cholesterol, HDL, or “healthy” cholesterol, is responsible for removing “bad” cholesterol from the bloodstream and preventing its accumulation in the arteries.
Read more: An Easy to Follow Low Cholesterol Diet Plan for Beginners
If more HDL is in the blood, there are fewer chances of a heart attack or stroke. In addition, healthy fats like olive oil may increase HDL cholesterol.
Triglycerides, a form of fat transported in the blood and deposited in fat cells all over the body, are created by the body from extra calories, sugar, and alcohol. Triglyceride levels are typically high in persons who are overweight, sedentary, smoke or consume large amounts of alcohol.
Triglycerides may cause your arteries to become more fragile. For example, suppose your triglyceride score is 150 or higher. In that case, you are most likely to develop metabolic syndrome.
These are responsible for an increased risk of various heart issues, including strokes and heart attacks, obesity, and high blood pressure.
The HealthifyMe Note
You may have a higher risk of heart disease or stroke if your LDL level is high, which spikes your overall cholesterol level. However, if your high HDL level is the only reason your total cholesterol is high, you won’t be at greater risk. A high cholesterol count could be due to high triglyceride levels, which are seen when excess calories are consumed. However, a healthy diet and exercise can help raise HDL, lower LDL and triglycerides, and improve cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol Level Chart
A blood test called a lipid profile provides this count. Adults should have a total cholesterol level below 200 mg/dL, which is the sum of two types of fat: cholesterol, both “bad” (LDL) and “good” (HDL). You should maintain an LDL cholesterol level of less than 100 mg/dL and an HDL cholesterol level of at least 60 mg/dL.
The chart below illustrates optimal to high cholesterol levels. According to the NIH, most people should be at these levels. The results for each measurement are given in mg/dL.
Total Cholesterol Level and Category
Less than 200mg/dL: Desirable
200-239 mg/dL: Borderline high
240mg/dL and above: High
LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Level and Category
Less than 100mg/dL: Optimal (best for your health)
130-159 mg/dL: Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL: High
190 mg/dL and above: Very High
HDL (Good) Cholesterol Level and Category
60 mg/dL and higher: Considered protective against heart disease
40-59 mg/dL: The higher, the better
Less than 40 mg/dL: A significant risk factor for heart disease
The HDL level is the only difference between male and female cholesterol levels. However, HDL levels tend to be higher in women than in men. For men, the ideal HDL level is at least 40 mg/dL, and for women, it is at least 50 mg/dL.
Understanding High Cholesterol
High cholesterol, also called hypercholesterolemia, is when you have too much cholesterol in your blood. The CDC estimates that nearly 94 million Americans suffer from high cholesterol.
If your cholesterol levels are high, plaque, a fatty deposit, can form on the walls of your arteries. The plaque can restrict oxygen supply to the heart muscle and stop blood flow. If blood and oxygen levels at heart drop sufficiently, people may experience shortness of breath or chest pain.
Read more: How to Reduce and Control High Cholesterol?
A heart attack may also occur if plaque completely blocks the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle. If the plaque blocks a blood vessel that carries blood to your brain, you might have a stroke. Also, high cholesterol is common among people with diabetes.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is typically a “silent” condition. Most of the time, it doesn’t show any symptoms. Many people don’t even know they have high cholesterol until they have severe complications.
The tell-tale signs are peripheral artery disease, high blood pressure, a heart attack, or a stroke. A routine cholesterol screening is essential. A blood test is the only way to determine if you have it.
Causes of High Cholesterol
According to research, several factors can affect cholesterol levels. For example, with age, a person’s total cholesterol levels vary. Gender may also play a role. Factors that influence cholesterol levels:
Your liver makes cholesterol, but you also get it from food. So consuming excessive amounts of foods high in saturated and trans-fats can raise cholesterol levels.
Obesity and inactivity are additional contributors to high cholesterol. Triglycerides are usually more elevated in obese people.
Being physically active, wherein one follows a regular fitness regime, helps increase HDL – the good cholesterol!
Your family history also influences your cholesterol level. For example, high cholesterol tends to run in families. So if someone in your immediate family has it, you might also have it.
Even young children can have unhealthy cholesterol, but people over 40 are much more likely to have it. Also, your liver’s ability to eliminate LDL cholesterol decreases as you age.
Smoking and Tobacco Use
Smoking and tobacco use can also raise cholesterol levels. These can lower HDL and raise LDL.
Cholesterol levels can increase if people take certain medications, such as steroids, birth control, retinoids, and some blood pressure medications like diuretics and HIV/AIDS.
A higher cholesterol level may result in medical conditions like diabetes, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), hyperlipidaemia or hypercholesterolemia, chronic renal disease, and HIV/AIDS.
Complications on High Cholesterol
High cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition in which cholesterol and other deposits form on the walls of the arteries. These fat deposits (plaques) can make it harder for blood to flow through your arteries, which can cause the following problems.
Chest pain or angina
High blood Pressure
Chronic Renal Disease
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Bile Imbalance, which may result in gallstone
Managing High Cholesterol Levels
There are primarily two ways to lower your total cholesterol level: heart-healthy lifestyle changes and drug treatment. In addition, the NIH offers management and prevention recommendations for high cholesterol. These are:
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