Your body needs some amount of cholesterol for it to function normally. That is why cholesterol is both good and bad for you, depending on the levels in your bloodstream. The right amount of cholesterol in your body is an essential substance, but it may lead to numerous serious illnesses when the levels become too high.
Your body needs cholesterol for digestive functions since it is present in each and every cell in the body. It is also useful when producing hormones and generating vitamin D. In this article, you will get more information on what high cholesterol is, its types, and why it can be bad for you. Read on to find out more.
Causes of High level of Cholesterol
It is important to know the main triggers of high cholesterol levels, with the most common causes being an unhealthy lifestyle. This can range from poor eating habits, smoking, and lack of physical exercise.
It is also important to note that genetics can have a hand in one having high levels of cholesterol in the body. However, maintaining an unhealthy diet (for example, eating foods with unsaturated fats such as dairy products, chocolate, processed foods, deep-fried foods, and some meats) is the most common reason for high cholesterol.
When you have poor eating habits and no physical exercise, your body starts to lose the good cholesterol it has accumulated. For example, sitting for long hours without taking a walk or doing some exercise will lower levels of good cholesterol. In addition, women who smoke are at a higher risk of losing good cholesterol than men who smoke, although smoking is detrimental to good health for everyone.
Genetics too, may be a cause for high levels of cholesterol in the body. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia is a form of high cholesterol that one inherits. Additionally, there are certain medicines and medical conditions that may cause this condition in the body.
The Two Types of Cholesterol
The most common types of cholesterol in the body are LDL (low-density lipoprotein) ”bad” cholesterol which constitutes the majority of the cholesterol in the body. When there are high LDL levels in your body, you are at increased risk of a heart attack.
The second type of cholesterol is HDL (high-density lipoprotein) ”good” cholesterol. It transfers cholesterol from your body to the liver, which flushes it out through the excretion system. If you have high HDL levels, you have lower chances of having a heart attack.
A Leading Cause of Heart Attacks
When there is too much cholesterol in your body, your health becomes at risk due to the cholesterol forming fatty deposits (known as plaques) in your arteries, ultimately leading to heart disease. The build-up of fats in the arteries will make it harder for blood to flow freely. Eventually, the plaque will break, form a clot, and travel to the heart, resulting in cardiac arrest.
High cholesterol levels often coincide with being overweight, which is associated with lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Therefore it is best to lead a healthy lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise to avoid such conditions.
Blood Test to Determine Levels of Cholesterol
It is important to know the amount of cholesterol present in your body. The easiest way to do this is by taking a complete cholesterol test. Taking a cholesterol test is important because you may not get any signs or symptoms when your body accumulates high levels of cholesterol until it’s too late.
Anyone can have a cholesterol test, but it is especially important for those who have a family history of heart attacks, one who is inactive, drinks and smokes, have diabetes, or is overweight.
You will take the following tests:
Total cholesterol test – it sums up cholesterol contents in your blood.
Low-Density Lipoprotein – also known as the ”bad” cholesterol, causes a build-up of fat deposits in your arteries when there is too much of it.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – also known as the ”good” cholesterol as it helps do away with the LDL, thus ensuring that your arteries remain open for easy blood flow.
Triglycerides – the test will determine the amount of triglycerides in your body.
How to Manage High Levels of Cholesterol
Managing your cholesterol levels will help save you from plenty of lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and many other cardiovascular diseases. Here are some ways that may help you manage your cholesterol.
Keep a Healthy Weight
The most effective way to maintain a healthy weight is by focusing on a healthy diet and exercising. Avoid fatty foods or baked goods as much as possible, minimize your intake of red meat, and exercise often. This will go a long way when lowering cholesterol levels in your body.
Eat a Hearty-Healthy Diet
Ensure that what you consume is a healthy diet for your heart. Focus more on consuming vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts in plenty. You can also include lean meat and fish in your diet instead of eggs and other dairy products.
Quitting smoking has been shown to increase the levels of good cholesterol in the body. Furthermore, smoking damages the lining of your blood vessels which in turn makes your blood prone to clotting. Therefore, quitting smoking will immediately reduce your risk of a heart attack. Additionally, smoking is not a healthy habit in general.
Reduce your Alcohol Intake
There is a type of fat present in the blood called triglycerides, and it rises when you consume too much alcohol. Therefore, when your body already has high LDL, it increases the chances of a heart attack. If you must take alcohol, then at most have one drink a day if you are a woman or two if you’re a man.
Manage other Existing Health Conditions
Some health conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease can cause damage to your blood vessels and increase your chances of suffering a heart attack. However, when you take proper precautions and follow your medication strictly, it will help reduce this risk and generally improve your health.
In as much as you may try to follow a healthy heart diet, exercise frequently, and live a healthy lifestyle, you may still have high levels of cholesterol in your body due to hereditary factors or age. Although such risk factors are beyond your control, medication is available to treat high cholesterol in those cases.