Cholesterol is a dense, waxy substance that is used by the body to perform vital functions like producing vitamin D and various hormones. Excess cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to serious health complications such as heart ailments, atherosclerosis and stroke. People with high cholesterol will not show any symptoms until they develop related health problems.
When cholesterol combines with proteins, it forms two types of lipoproteins called low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). The latter is considered as good cholesterol since it helps to move cholesterol from various body cells to the liver where it’s broken down or excreted as a waste product.
LDL, on the other hand, helps to supply cholesterol to the body cells. It is considered as bad cholesterol since it can promote plaque buildup in the arteries raising the risks of heart problems and damages to the blood vessels. A health practitioner can carry out a blood test to check the levels of HDL and LDL. These are the main reasons why people have high cholesterol levels.
Consuming unhealthy meals
People consuming unhealthy meals, especially those rich in saturated fats, are usually at higher risks of being affected by high cholesterol. These include food products like butter, meat, egg yolk, cheese, dairy products, fries, crackers and cookies. Such products will contribute to high levels of low-density lipoproteins. The European countries are the highest cholesterol levels. In a country with high cholesterol level most people suffer from obesity and high blood pressure
Smoking lowers the HDL and cause damages to the blood vessels. It increases the cholesterol level.
Diabetes and hypertension
Is someone has diabetes or hypertension then it is likely that the person will have high levels of cholesterol.
Not exercising regularly
Exercise keeps people healthy. If you don’t exercise regularly then your cholesterol level won’t be under control.
If someone in your family has high cholesterol level then there is high chance that you will have it too.
Overweight problems such as obesity
People who are overweight don’t follow a healthy diet. They also don’t do exercise regularly. These cause the cholesterol level to increase.
High cholesterol level is a common problem for people who are more than 45 years of age. So, if you fall in that age group, then you may have high cholesterol level.
In diagnosing high cholesterol, your health practitioner will carry out a blood test referred to as lipid profile. This will help to establish the levels of LDL, HDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides. You should avoid taking any foods or beverages for up to 12 hours before the test is done. There are people who should be going for regular tests including those with diabetes and obesity.
In mild cases, high cholesterol can be managed by making some lifestyle changes. If you are affected, you should switch to a healthy diet that should be rich in whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, non-fat dairy products and fish. Other effective changes that you should make include:
- Exercising regularly to keep fit
- Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake
- Losing weight especially if you are obese
Adopting a new lifestyle can be a challenge, but you can realize some positive results by switching gradually. There are cases where the doctor may prescribe medications to lower your cholesterol levels. These include statins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, bile-acid-binding resins and injections.
People showing no symptoms can easily manage high cholesterol by making healthy lifestyle choices and a follow-up may not be necessary. However, it is important for those with underlying health problems like diabetes to visit their doctors after completing the prescribed medications. This will also apply to persons with health complications resulting from high cholesterol.