Cholesterol is a sticky, waxy substance produced by the liver. It is used to protect nerves, build cells, and make hormones. Food is another source of cholesterol for your body. All animal products are included in this category as well. Both “good” (HDL) and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol exist in the body. High levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) are harmful. 

A number of other health issues are linked to high cholesterol. That means it has the potential to immediately start causing major issues (like coronary artery disease). But the condition can also be caused by other health problems, especially ones that cause inflammation (like lupus). High blood pressure is a common side effect of high cholesterol.

What exactly is high cholesterol?

Having an excessive amount of lipids (fats) in the blood is what’s known as high cholesterol. Hypercholesterolemia and hyperlipidemia are other names for this condition.

Maintaining optimal bodily function necessitates a specific range of lipids. The body can’t make use of all the lipids in a large supply. This excess of fat causes a buildup in the arterial walls. By joining up with other molecules in the bloodstream (fatty deposits), they help build up arterial plaque.

This plaque in your arteries might not make you sick for a long time, but it’s slowly getting worse and will eventually cause a heart attack or stroke. Because of this, it’s crucial to get treatment if you have high cholesterol. It’s likely that you’re not aware of how much those excess lipids in your blood are contributing to the growth of the plaque. Only a blood test can reveal whether or not your cholesterol levels are too high.

Cholesterol progression and phases

Properties of Cholesterol

Since cholesterol does not mix with blood, it cannot be carried by the circulation system. The liver manufactures lipoproteins, which aid in the transport of cholesterol. A lipid panel is a blood test that measures the levels of lipids in the blood. How high your cholesterol depends on your age, gender, and whether or not you’ve had heart disease before.

Particles of fat and protein are known as lipoproteins Lipoproteins transport lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides through the circulatory system. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are the two most common types of lipoproteins.

Cholesterol, which is transported by low-density lipoprotein (LDL), is cholesterol. A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood could be a sign that someone has high cholesterol. High cholesterol can cause serious health problems, such as heart attacks and strokes if left untreated. High cholesterol almost never causes symptoms at first. Because of this, keeping tabs on your cholesterol levels is crucial.

Be Conscious of Your Cholesterol Level

For a person in their twenties whose cholesterol levels are high to get checked once a year for a while. People who have more risk factors for heart disease may need to get checked out more often.

High cholesterol: the root causes  Consider your blood vessels to be a network of pipes. Plaque is analogous to the crud that accumulates in your home’s plumbing and causes the water to drain more slowly in the shower. Plaque forms on the inside of blood vessels and restricts blood flow.

When cholesterol levels are too high, plaque builds up inside the blood vessels. Plaque grows in size the longer it goes untreated. Your blood vessels will become restricted or obstructed as the plaque grows larger. Your blood arteries may continue to function normally for some time, like a drain that is just partially clogged. But their effectiveness will be diminished.

Because clogged blood vessels can lead to a variety of health issues, having high cholesterol puts you at risk for a variety of illnesses.

Circulatory problems in the heart (CAD)

Ischemic heart disease (CHD) and coronary heart disease (CAD) are other names for CAD. When people talk about “heart disease,” they usually mean this. In the United States, CAD is the primary cause of death from cardiovascular disease.

The development of coronary atherosclerosis leads to CAD. Your heart receives blood through these veins. When it doesn’t get enough blood, the heart gets weaker and can’t work right anymore. Stroke and heart failure are two potential outcomes of CAD.

Many individuals don’t realize that even young people can get coronary artery disease. However, approximately 20% of those who pass away from CAD are younger than 65. This is why having your cholesterol evaluated regularly, beginning at a young age, is so crucial. The coronary arteries can slowly and invisibly harden due to plaque buildup over time.

The common symptom of a heart attack, chest discomfort (angina), is often the first indicator that anything is wrong.

Ischemic heart disease

Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of carotid artery disease. The vast frontal lobe of your brain receives blood from your carotid arteries. Blockage of these arteries by plaque reduces the amount of oxygen-rich blood reaching the brain.

Strokes and TIAs (mini-strokes) are both possible outcomes of carotid artery dysfunction.

Arteriosclerosis of the Peripheral Arteries (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is caused by atherosclerosis and manifests in the legs and arms. have “peripheral” arteries in your legs and arms because they are located in areas of your body that are not directly connected to your heart. Although arm PAD is less prevalent than leg PAD, it does occur.

Since PAD frequently presents no outward signs, it poses a significant health risk. When a peripheral artery is at least 60% occluded, symptoms may begin to show up. Intermittent claudication is a major symptom. This is a type of leg cramp that begins while you’re on the go but subsides as soon as you sit down. That’s because the plaque in your artery is getting bigger and blocking off more of the blood supply.

Extreme discomfort in the legs and feet is just the beginning of the trouble that PAD can cause. This is due to the fact that your cardiovascular system links all of your blood vessels together. When plaque accumulates in one spot, it slows down the entire “pipe system.”

CAD and PAD are two different diseases that share certain similarities. In general, if a person has one disease, they almost always have the other. There is a high degree of overlap between the risk factors for PAD and CAD.

Chronic hypertension

Hypertension (excessive blood pressure) is connected to cholesterol levels that are too high. Arteries harden and narrow due to calcium deposits and cholesterol plaque. Therefore, your heart must work harder to push blood through them. As a result, your blood pressure becomes abnormally high.

Two major risk factors for cardiovascular disease are excessive blood pressure and cholesterol levels. About one-third of American adults have high blood pressure, and about the same number have high cholesterol. Fifty percent or more of adults in each group aren’t receiving any treatment, or they aren’t receiving treatment that is effective.

Even though the prescriptions your doctor gives you can be very helpful, you should also make any changes to your life that are needed to get the most out of those drugs. Managing high cholesterol and high blood pressure both require alterations to one’s way of life.

Cholesterol meter

However, You may take certain preparations like:

  • Eat less fast food to reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats. But the way a meal is made could make it high in saturated fat even in a high-end restaurant.
  • Reduce your intake of processed and fried foods. Packaged sweets and nibbles fall into this category.
  • Reduce your intake of salt by avoiding foods that may contain it undetected. If you want to know what you’re buying, read the labels. It’s possible that some eateries might provide details on the food’s nutritional value.
  • Put the cigarettes and tobacco products down: Tobacco use is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and other complications of the circulatory system.

To what extent do my present medical conditions impact my cholesterol levels?

Cholesterol can both cause and contribute to health issues. One health problem that could come from having too much cholesterol is the development of atherosclerosis. However, there are various medical issues that can increase your risk of high cholesterol. 

There are a number of health issues that might influence cholesterol levels, and I’ve included a few of them here.

Kidney failure that persists over a long period of time (CKD)

People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are more likely to have coronary artery disease. That’s due to the fact that CKD increases the rate at which plaque builds up in their arteries. Heart disease is a greater killer of people with early-stage CKD than the renal disease itself.

Triglycerides, a kind of blood fat, increase in quantity when the chronic kidney disease is present. More very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol is another side effect. Very low-density lipoproteins are lipid carriers. In the meantime, having chronic kidney disease lowers your level of “good cholesterol” (HDL) and makes HDLs less effective. In addition, chronic kidney disease alters the structure of your “bad cholesterol” (LDL) particles, making them more dangerous.

HIV

Stroke and heart attack rates are roughly twice as high in HIV patients as in the general population. Before, scientists attributed this increased danger to taking HIV medicines (antiretroviral therapy). They thought those drugs made people fat and unhealthy. Recent studies, however, have shown that the immune system itself is to blame.

When HIV is controlled, immune system activation might still occur. The result is persistent inflammation throughout the body. Plaque formation and atherosclerosis are both triggered by inflammation.

The upbeat news is that the average lifespan of an HIV patient is increasing. Therefore, greater investigation into the impact of chronic disorders like cardiovascular disease is required.

Thyroid issues

Cholesterol levels may be impacted by thyroid illness. This is because lipid metabolism is influenced by the thyroid hormone (fat). The effects will vary based on the specific type of thyroid disease that you have.

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid produces an excessive amount of hormones. Some of the medicines (total, LDL, and HDL) given to treat this illness can raise cholesterol levels. If you are being treated for hyperthyroidism, you should talk to your doctor about how to handle this issue.

Too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) is produced by the thyroid gland. And it also raises your cholesterol levels. Its levels can be improved with the treatment of thyroid illnesses. It’s possible, though, that you’ll need to take statins in order to get your cholesterol levels down to healthy levels. Your doctor will go over your options and help you decide what’s best for you.

Thyroid illness and heart disease are two conditions that have received extensive study. Some research has linked thyroid disorders to heart problems that have nothing to do with cholesterol or plaque. The risk of heart failure may be increased by both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Lupus Condition

Lupus sufferers often have elevated levels of LDL and VLDL (“bad cholesterol”) and triglycerides. Further, their “good cholesterol” levels are significantly lower (HDL). In contrast to people with well-controlled (silent) lupus, those with active lupus are at increased risk of developing high cholesterol.

The risk of developing coronary artery disease is increased in people with lupus. This is because inflammation is always present in the body of someone with lupus. Because of the inflammation, arterial plaque develops more quickly.

Syndrome of Polycystic Ovary (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. As they become older, the danger increases. Many cardiovascular disease risk factors are increased in people with polycystic ovary syndrome. High levels of “bad cholesterol” (LDL) and low levels of “good cholesterol” (HDL) are common in people with PCOS.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus increases the risk of both coronary and peripheral artery disease. HDL levels are lowered while triglyceride and LDL levels are increased in people with diabetes.

Diabetic dyslipidemia affects about seven out of ten people with Type 2 diabetes. This person has high levels of triglycerides and “small dense” LDL and low levels of “good” HDL. LDL, which stands for “low-density lipoprotein,” is a type of cholesterol protein that can easily get into your arteries and damage the walls of your arteries. When there are a lot of small, dense LDLs in the blood, it can cause plaque forms.

Cholesterol blockage in heart

Some tips on how to lower cholesterol levels

Consult your doctor about the most effective means to reduce your cholesterol levels. Some people just need to make basic adjustments to their routine, such as cutting back on saturated fat. Some people can only get well with a combination of medicine and behavioral modifications. People who have health issues that cause their cholesterol to fluctuate may require a more nuanced strategy. 

Discuss your health background, family medical history, and current lifestyle choices with your doctor. You’ll devise a strategy to reduce your cholesterol levels as a team.

Always keep in mind that even the most well-thought-out strategies need time to bear fruit. Moreover, we all have difficulties. It’s normal to have difficulty, and it’s quite acceptable to let your service provider know when their strategy isn’t working for you.

For some people, even the most stringent lifestyle changes won’t be enough to get their cholesterol levels down to an acceptable level. In fact, your liver is responsible for making the vast majority of the lipids in your body. So, there are a lot of other things going on that have nothing to do with the food on your plate.

Just take it easy and try not to feel bad about yourself because of your cholesterol levels. It happens because your body is going through a series of subtle transformations. Control what you can, but remember that medical interventions like medication are available to help you out when you need them.

being hypothyroid (not producing enough thyroid hormone) and lacking growth hormone (when not enough growth hormone is made).

cholesterol screening

Cholesterol can be checked with a simple blood test that your doctor can do for you if you ask. “Lipid profile” is another name for this. Your doctor or nurse at the clinic will draw blood to screen for the following conditions:

They will run tests to determine amounts of both good (HDL) and bad (non-HDL) cholesterol, as well as triglyceride levels.

A total cholesterol reading will also be provided. A finger-prick cholesterol test could be offered to you.

Although everyone’s lipid levels are different, maintaining a healthy heart requires a balance between a low non-HDL level and a high HDL level.

What’s a “normal” cholesterol level?

These guidelines are meant only as a starting point. It’s your own personal risk that matters. Talk to your doctor or nurse about your test results and the target ranges they suggest. Learn more about your test outcomes, how your doctor calculates your risk, and when you might need medication.

ResultHealthy level (mmol/L)
Total cholesterol5 or below
Non-fasting triglycerides (when you eat as normal before the test)2.3 or below
Non-HDL (bad cholesterol)4 or below
Fasting triglycerides (when you’re asked not to eat for several hours before the test)1.7 or below
HDL (good cholesterol)1 or above
Total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio6 or below

A high cholesterol level means that there is too much “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which can make heart problems more likely. However, the “bad” (non-HDL) cholesterol in the body can be kept in check by maintaining a healthy amount of “good” (HDL) cholesterol.

Cholesterol treatment

To help reduce cholesterol levels, you can do many things, including the following:

You can try to find ways to increase your activity level, which will not only help you lower your cholesterol but also make you feel better overall.

You may choose to limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking.

You can relax and take pleasure in experimenting with heart-healthy dishes and meals.

What can I do to reduce my cholesterol levels?

If changing what you eat and how you live doesn’t help bring down your high cholesterol to a healthy level, your doctor may give you medicine. If your doctor has told you that you have high cholesterol, he or she should schedule annual blood work to monitor your levels and make any required adjustments to your medication.

The majority of cholesterol-lowering drugs are statins. However, there are alternative methods of treatment. If your cholesterol readings are too high, your doctor will recommend additional medications to help bring them down. You may potentially be referred to a lipidologist for further evaluation.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only, and no medical advice should be inferred from it. Before changing your diet or adding supplements, please talk to your doctor.

The author’s views are his or her own. The facts and opinions in the article have been taken from various articles and commentaries available in the online media and Eastside Writers does not take any responsibility or obligation for them.

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