What is Cholesterol?
Present in all the cells in the human body, cholesterol is an organic molecule made by the liver and is a fat-like substance that has a waxy, yellowish crystalline structure. Your body already generates the right amount of cholesterol that it needs to aid the digestion process, but the food that is consumed by an individual also becomes a source of cholesterol.
If the cholesterol in ones blood goes above a certain extent, it has the capacity to combine with other substances to turn into plaque. Plaque has the tendency to stick to the walls of your arteries, which can lead to an artery disease causing your coronary arteries to grow narrower or in the worst situation, get blocked.
Types of Cholesterol
The fats in your body, including cholesterol, flows through your blood as sphere-shaped particles known as lipoproteins. They are formed by combining fats and proteins. Fats (lipids) need the help of proteins to move in the blood. The three types of proteins are differentiated on the basis of these lipoproteins.
- High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol: Generally referred to as the ‘good’ protein due to its function of carrying cholesterol back to the liver by other parts of your body, HDL is necessary for your body. Some people have to resort to taking measures to raise the levels of HDL in their bodies. The level of HDL in the body should be around 50 mg/dl.
- Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol: Known as the ‘bad cholesterol’, LDL is the one that contributes towards the building up of plaque and the blockage in arteries which can cause heart attacks and strokes. Higher levels of LDL in your body can prove to be harmful. The recommendable level is below 70 mg/dl. Smoking, foods containing high levels of saturated fats, excess calories, obesity, etc. can be some of the reasons why you have higher proportions of LDL in your body.
- Very Low-Density Lipoprotein (VLDL) Cholesterol: Like LDL, VLDL is also called ‘bad’ cholesterol owing to its contribution to the making of plaque in the arteries. However, it is slightly different from LDL, Low-Density Lipoprotein mainly carries cholesterol while Very Low-Density Lipoprotein carries triglycerides (the most common type of fat in your body).
Causes of High Cholesterol
The causes of high levels of cholesterol in the blood can be due to your habits as well as some natural factors:
- Eating habits: It is a very common fact that not all types of fats are bad for your body, some help your body to get its needed nutrients and grow into a healthy shape. On the other hand, the foods that contain saturated fats, basically the fats that aren’t exactly healthy for your body, make your cholesterol levels go up. The types of fat found in baked foods, deep-fried items, processed ones, dairy products, etc, like saturated and trans fat, can increase LDL cholesterol in your blood.
- Sendentary lifestyle: Physical activity is something that is so commonly neglected in your busy lives but is the one thing that has everything to change the trajectory of your health. Not moving too much, rarely exercising, sitting for long periods, etc. can become a serious cause of high levels of bad cholesterol in your body.
- Smoking: The habit of smoking not only helps the LDL in your body to shoot up but also results in low levels of HDL (good cholesterol). While it is important to limit or quit smoking to maintain adequate levels of HDL in your body, it can also help to lower LDL and decrease the chances of medical emergencies like a heart attack or a stroke.
- Natural causes
- Race: Some particular races have a track record of being more prone to higher levels of bad cholesterol in their blood. Due to obvious reasons like not being able to take care of their health in the past, African Americans are known to have high cholesterol levels and until it ultimately turned hereditary.
- Heredity: It is very common for the problem of high cholesterol levels to run through families.
- Age and weight: Some other factors like age and weight can end up becoming the causes for high cholesterol in your blood. As people grow older, the risk of having cholesterol problems rises. Although high cholesterol is a less common condition in the younger population, it is not impossible for children and teens to have the problem of high cholesterol. Being overweight and obese can increase the chances of having high cholesterol levels as well.
Symptoms and Complications
Although there aren’t any direct signs or symptoms of high cholesterol, some complications can make it pretty obvious. As discussed before, larger amounts of LDL or VLDL (bad cholesterol) in your body can lead to the formation of plaque that can cause narrowing or blockage of your arteries after sticking to its walls. If the plaque area in your arteries gets ruptured, it can form a blood clot (mass of blood sticking together) on the plaque’s surface. Plaque can also block the flow of the artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to your heart, causing angina, or even a heart attack.
The formation of plaque in your arteries can end up being the cause of a series of diseases included peripheral arterial disease and carotid artery disease. While it is clear that a high cholesterol level in your blood doesn’t have noticeable symptoms for itself, the problems caused by it can have evident symptoms.
Diagnostic test for high Cholesterol
Due to the lack of obvious symptoms, there is a need for a blood test to diagnose an above than normal blood cholesterol level. When and how often should you get a blood test done depends on various factors including age, risk, family’s health history, etc. The blood test that measures your cholesterol checks the lipid panel that looks for the situation of all three, HLD, LDL, and VLDL. The basic recommendation according to the age group is as follows:
- 19 or younger: For all those who come under the age bar of 19 or under, getting a blood test done every 5 years is advisable. The first test should take place between the ages of 9-11. Children who belong to a family with a bad track record with a high risk of heart attacks and strokes should start having blood tests done from the age of 2.
- 20 or older: The older population is advised to get the blood test done every 5 years. As the age rises, the risk rises with it. Men aging from 45 to 65 and women aging from 55 to 65 should have the test every 1 to 2 years.
How to prevent high colestrol levels with diet and exercise?
There is no such thing as making the cholesterol disappear as cholesterol, to a certain level, is needed for your body to digest the food properly. However, having this similar to other types of fats, not all types of cholesterol are good for your body. Maintaining a healthy level of blood cholesterol isn’t the toughest of the tasks if you make your health a priority. Nothing can be achieved without effort and when it comes to healthy eating habits, making a balanced diet a lifestyle can seem tricky at the start.
By avoiding smoking and eating healthy, you can ensure the regulation of cholesterol levels in your body. It is near impossible to permanently rule out a particular type of food from your diet, what matters is the quantity of your intake. If you manage to get around the intake of foods that contain high levels of saturated and trans fat, you can easily manage your weight goals and work towards your goal of a healthy diet.
Although there are other ways to treat your cholesterol such as medication and treatment such as lipoprotein apheresis which uses a filter to remove bad cholesterol from your body, if you can take care of the level of your blood cholesterol with a healthy lifestyle, isn’t it better to do it naturally? Along with eating healthy, exercising for around 30 minutes 5 days a week can help your body to keep moving and staying healthy. A decent amount of exercise can do wonders for your body and working out wisely can definitely help you to control your high cholesterol levels.
Note that it is important one consults a doctor or a professional to ensure the right sort of treatment and lifestyle changes needed to maintain correct colestrol levels. You can avail such consultancy and advice at Winbril Lifesciences with comfort of your home.
Role of ECG or Electrocardiogram or EKG in High cholesterol
While it is pretty common to get your high cholesterol diagnosed by a blood test, sometimes another type of test known as an Electrocardiogram (ECG) is needed. The test that measures the electrical activity of your heart when it is at rest isn’t always needed until the risk factor is touching extremes.
When someone is experiencing chest pain, is a frequent smoker, is obese, or has a family history of strokes and heart diseases, a doctor may recommend them to get an ECG done. The electrical activity in the heart muscle can help to detect the high cholesterol levels that are harmful to your body.
ECG services are available at Winbri Life Sciences at, provided with utmost care and concern and at affordable rates.