Cholesterol is a substance that is mostly fat. The body needs it to function properly. It is a crucial structural element of animal cell membranes. Every single animal cell produces cholesterol. Also, bile acid, vitamin D, and steroid hormones are all made using cholesterol as a starting point. Proteins in your blood carry cholesterol. They become lipoproteins when cholesterol and proteins are combined.
There are two main types of lipoproteins: HDL and LDL. HDL, or high-density lipoproteins, are known as “good cholesterol” because they carry cholesterol to the liver from the cells. From there, it either breaks down or is removed from the body as waste. Higher levels of HDL in the body are preferable. LDL, or low-density lipoproteins, transport cholesterol to cells that require it. However, it can accumulate in the arterial walls and cause arterial disease if present in excessive amounts. That is why LDL is referred to as “bad cholesterol.” A blood test can accurately determine HDL and LDL cholesterol levels.
Continue reading to learn more about high cholesterol’s causes, contributing factors, level chart, treatments, etc. This article provides a comprehensive guide on high cholesterol.
High Cholesterol: An Overview
High cholesterol is a condition wherein you have too many lipids (fats) in your blood. It is also known as hyperlipidemia or hypercholesterolemia. Your body needs just the right quantity of lipids to function. If you have lipids in excess, your body can’t use them all. The additional lipids then begin to get deposited on the walls of your arteries in the form of a build-up known as plaque that narrows blood vessels and restricts blood flow through them.
High cholesterol levels that are left untreated can lead to death. The only way to determine the level of lipids in the body is through a blood lipid panel test. The history of heart disease, age, and gender are some factors that define whether an individual’s cholesterol levels are high.
Heart disease and stroke risk factors rise with elevated cholesterol levels. As a risk factor for ischemic heart disease and stroke, high total cholesterol significantly contributes to disease burden in both developed and developing nations. The WHO data shows that in 2008, 39% of individuals worldwide (37% of men and 40% of women) had elevated total cholesterol. High cholesterol contributes to a contributing factor in one-third of ischemic heart disease cases worldwide. According to estimates, elevated cholesterol contributes to 2.6 million deaths.
Managing Cholesterol Levels like a PRO
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The Causes and Symptoms of High Cholesterol
Consuming excessive meals high in cholesterol, trans fats, and saturated fats may make you more likely to acquire high cholesterol. Additionally, your risk can go up if you are obese. Inactivity and smoking are two more lifestyle choices that might raise cholesterol. Furthermore, your likelihood of getting high cholesterol may also get influenced by your heredity.
In familial hypercholesterolemia, your body cannot eliminate LDL due to this hereditary condition. Your chance of acquiring high cholesterol and associated consequences may also increase by other medical diseases like diabetes and hypothyroidism. People with this condition have LDL levels above 200 mg/dl and cholesterol levels above 300 mg/dl.
There are often no symptoms associated with high cholesterol. It primarily results in emergencies like stroke and heart attack. A blood test can only determine your cholesterol level. It denotes having a total cholesterol level in the blood that is higher than 200 mg/dL. However, sudden drowsiness or loss of balance and coordination, immobility, and numbness in your arm or leg may happen.
The HealthifyMe Note
High cholesterol is fatal and silent. You could have it in your blood without realising it for many years. High cholesterol levels show no symptoms. The only way to find out is with a quick blood test. Children and adults, including those who are active and feel healthy, are affected by high cholesterol.
Cholesterol Levels Chart
The cholesterol level chart below shows healthy cholesterol levels by age, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Type of cholesterolAnyone 19 or youngerMen aged 20 or overWomen aged 20 or overTotal cholesterolLess than 170 mg/dl125-200 mg/dl125-200 mg/dlNon-HDLLess than 120 mg/dlLess than 130 mg/dlLess than 130 mg/dlLDLLess than 100 mg/dlLess than 100 mg/dlLess than 100 mg/dlHDLMore than 45 mg/dl40 mg/dl or higher50 mg/dl or higher
Getting your cholesterol tested helps you to determine if you have high cholesterol.
How Does High Cholesterol Affect My Body?
Your body’s blood arteries are like a sophisticated system of pipes that keep blood flowing through it. Plaque is similar to the sludge that clogs pipes. Your blood vessels’ inner walls become clogged with plaque, which reduces the amount of blood that can pass through. Atherosclerosis is the medical term for this plaque development. Furthermore, high cholesterol increases your risk of developing additional medical issues depending on which blood vessels are clogged.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
High Blood Pressure
High cholesterol and high blood pressure (hypertension) are related. Your arteries harden and narrow as a result of cholesterol plaque and calcium. As a result, pumping blood through them requires significantly more effort from your heart. Your blood pressure goes up too much as a result.
What Medical Problems Affect My Cholesterol Levels?
Cholesterol and medical issues are related. High cholesterol might also increase your risk for certain medical disorders other than atherosclerosis. The following conditions may have an impact on your cholesterol levels.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Coronary artery disease is more common in people with (CKD) chronic kidney disease. It is because their arteries begin to accumulate plaque more quickly as a result of CKD. According to reports, early-stage CKD patients die from heart disease more than from renal failure. Triglycerides are a form of fat that accumulates in the blood more due to CKD. Due to it, you also have higher very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol. Your “bad cholesterol” (LDL) particles’ structure is also altered by CKD, making them more harmful.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Hyperthyroidism: Your body produces too much thyroid hormone as a result of this disorder. Drugs prescribed to treat this illness may cause an increase in cholesterol (total, LDL, and HDL). Discuss cholesterol management with your healthcare provider if you are receiving treatment for hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism: This condition results in your body producing too little thyroid hormone. You generate higher cholesterol levels as a result of it. Your cholesterol levels decrease in this scenario due to thyroid disease treatment. However, statins may still be necessary to get your cholesterol to the optimal level. What is best for your specific situation will be discussed with your specialist.
High-density lipoprotein stands for “good cholesterol” (HDL). HDLs transport cholesterol to the liver. Your liver regulates your cholesterol levels. Your body produces the right amount of cholesterol and then excretes the excess. To transport cholesterol to your liver, you need a sufficient amount of HDLs. If your HDL cholesterol levels are significantly low, “bad cholesterol” will circulate in your blood.
Low-density lipoprotein is the term for “bad cholesterol” (LDL). LDL takes cholesterol directly to your arteries. Atherosclerosis, a plaque accumulation that can potentially end in heart attack and stroke, may occur from this. Another component of cholesterol, triglycerides, functions as extra calories deposited as fat in the blood. Triglycerides can accumulate in the bloodstream when you consume more calories than you burn, raising your risk of heart attacks.
How Can My High Cholesterol be Reduced?
Some people require minor lifestyle adjustments, such as consuming fewer saturated fats. Others require both medicine and lifestyle adjustments. People with medical issues that affect their cholesterol require a more complicated strategy. Talk with your nutritionist about your medical history and lifestyle considerations. Your health professional will create a plan for reducing your cholesterol levels.
One can clearly understand the impact of nutrition and lifestyle by speaking with the knowledgeable coaches at HealthifyMe. The simplest way to improve overall health and fitness is to subscribe to the HealthifyMe app. With over 60+ health indicators, HealthifyPro 2.0 by HealthifyMe provides real-time insights about your health.
You can create an exercise and dietary plan customised to your individual health needs with the help of a one-on-one consultation with a HealthifyMe health coach. Finding out what you are incorrectly doing can be done with the help of HealthifyPRO and HealthifyPRO 2.0. You may control your cholesterol levels by monitoring your blood, activity, and diet.
The HealthifyMe Note
Making lifestyle adjustments, such as increasing physical activity and consuming less trans and saturated fats, will help reduce high cholesterol levels. Some people need to adjust their lifestyles as well as take medications. The nutritionists from HealthifyMe will create a well-crafted plan for reducing your cholesterol levels.
Treatment for High Cholesterol
Changing one’s lifestyle through activities like exercise and healthy eating is the first line of defense against high cholesterol. However, your doctor could suggest medication if you’ve made these significant lifestyle changes but your cholesterol levels are still high. Several factors, including individual risk factors, age, state of health, and potential drug side effects, influence the selection of a drug or drug combination. Some options include:
Statins block the chemical your liver needs to produce cholesterol. It causes your liver to sweep cholesterol from your blood. You may choose fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Altoprev), atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor), pitavastatin (Livalo), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin, and pravachol (Zocor).
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors
The cholesterol you consume is absorbed by your small intestine and released into your bloodstream. Ezetimibe (Zetia) lowers blood cholesterol levels by preventing the absorption of dietary cholesterol. One may take a statin medicine along with ezetimibe.
Adding Bempedoic acid (Nexletol) to a maximum statin dosage can help lower LDL significantly.
Bile acids, a component required for digestion, are produced by your liver using cholesterol. By attaching to bile acids, the drugs cholestyramine (Prevalite), colesevelam (Welchol), and colestipol (Colestid) indirectly reduce cholesterol. It causes your liver to produce more bile acids by using the extra cholesterol, lowering the level of cholesterol in your blood.
These medications can increase the liver’s ability to absorb LDL cholesterol, which reduces blood cholesterol levels. People with a hereditary disorder may benefit from using alirocumab (Praluent) and evolocumab (Repatha).
NOTE: One should only consume these medications if prescribed by their doctor.
The HealthifyMe Note
While prescription drugs from your doctor can be beneficial; it’s also possible to maximise the effectiveness of such drugs by changing your lifestyle. Modifying one’s lifestyle is crucial for controlling high cholesterol. Moreover, before purchasing a product, it is critical to read the label in the store because some food products get loaded with salt. To reduce cholesterol, limiting salt or sodium intake is crucial. In addition, smoking is a leading risk factor for blood vessel problems and heart disease. Therefore, stop smoking and using tobacco products.
The first step to lowering your blood cholesterol is lifestyle modification. Reducing excessive cholesterol levels is essential to avoid several major problems. Speaking with your doctor or other healthcare professionals is crucial because they will suggest medications that can assist. The knowledgeable nutritionists on the HealthifyMe team will help you manage your condition and create a diet plan that is perfect for you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What are the symptoms of high cholesterol in the body?
A. In general, there are no symptoms of high cholesterol in the body; however, abrupt drowsiness or loss of balance and coordination, immobility, confusion, and numbness in your arm or leg, specifically on one side of your body, are some indications.
Q. Is dizziness a symptom of high cholesterol?
A. A rise in cholesterol levels and the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body may contribute to plaque formation, which is fatty deposits. Although high cholesterol does not directly cause dizziness, it can lead to illnesses and diseases that do. However, suppose your chest discomfort is severe or accompanied by other symptoms like sweating, nausea, arm pain, dizziness, or light-headedness. In that case, it may indicate clogged arteries or even a stroke brought on by high cholesterol.
Q. Are there physical symptoms of high cholesterol?
A. There are typically no symptoms associated with high cholesterol. The majority of the time, it only results in emergencies. For example, complications brought on by excessive cholesterol can include heart attacks and strokes. Usually, these things don’t happen until your arteries build up plaque due to excessive cholesterol—your artery lining’s structure changes due to plaque formation. A blood test is the only method to determine if your cholesterol is too high.
Q. How do you feel when your cholesterol is too high?
A. High cholesterol level is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it shows no symptoms. Without having your cholesterol checked, you can’t know if you have high cholesterol. Your cholesterol level will be determined by a quick blood test. Middle-aged men and women should have their cholesterol levels examined. You develop heart disease, stroke, or atherosclerosis symptoms in other blood vessels, such as left-sided chest pain, pressure, or fullness; dizziness; slurred speech; or pain in the lower legs. Each illness necessitates immediate medical attention and may be related to excessive cholesterol.
Q. What are the five signs of high cholesterol?
A. A cholesterol issue will inevitably result in heart issues. A few signs of high cholesterol include pale nails, sudden numbness in your arm or leg, especially on one side of your body, chest pain, loss of balance or coordination, and slurred speech.
Q. What are the signs of high cholesterol on the face?
A. If you have unhealthy cholesterol levels. You will notice yellowish-orange growths on your skin; as cholesterol gets deposited under your skin. These non-painful deposits may develop in various locations. For example, the back of your lower legs, lines on your palm, or the corners of your eyes. You may have a skin issue linked to excessive cholesterol if you have yellowish pimples, patches around your eyes, or mild to severe skin discolouration. One ocular symptom of elevated cholesterol is the development of a bluish ring close to the cornea. These rings, called “arcus senilis,” appear as more cholesterol gets deposited into the cornea with ageing. It’s crucial to monitor and control your cholesterol levels in consultation with your medical team.
Q. Is walking good for high cholesterol?
A. The American Heart Association claims brisk walking lowers cholesterol and is a great exercise for almost everyone. You can increase your “good” cholesterol (HDL) and decrease your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) with just brisk 30-minute walks per week. Even without losing weight, it has been demonstrated that this level of exercise lowers cholesterol. After just 3-6 months of regular exercise, your LDL level will change. Finding a difference in HDL needs more time. Even though the majority of studies reveal that it usually takes 5 to 9 months, however, each person is unique.
Q. Does stress cause high cholesterol?
A. According to studies, chronic stress raises stress hormone levels over time, resulting in increased blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Stress may exacerbate high cholesterol if you already have it. In a study involving 200 men and women (middle-aged) with high cholesterol for three years, those who reported feeling more stressed had more elevated cholesterol than those who reported feeling less. Since stress and cholesterol are correlated, reducing stress may help lower the high cholesterol that stress causes. Short-term, temporary stress is less harmful to your health and cholesterol than long-term, chronic stress. Stress reduction over time can aid in lowering cholesterol issues.
Q. Do bananas lower cholesterol?
A. The removal of cholesterol from the digestive tract stops it from entering the bloodstream and blocking arteries. Through the addition of soluble fibre to your diet, bananas reduce cholesterol. In particular, bananas are renowned for being a good soluble fibre source, promoting a healthy body and immune system.
Q. Does high cholesterol make you tired?
A. No, high cholesterol doesn’t often make you tired, but it can induce heart problems like coronary artery disease, which can make you tired. The tiny arteries of your heart narrow and harden due to the excess LDL accumulating as plaque. It results in several serious issues that make people feel sluggish, tired or drained.