Cholesterol is a naturally occurring waxy substance found in the body’s cell walls and membranes all over the body. Cholesterol is very important, as your body requires it to produce various body hormones, bile acid in the liver and vitamin D. Cholesterol is transported to different parts of your body through the blood stream, thus referred to as blood cholesterol, which at times contains high levels of the same. Since your body only requires an ample amount, the excess cholesterol is deposited along the bloodstream path, including in the arteries leading to your heart, brain and legs. High blood cholesterol is not only unhealthy but also dangerous. As excess cholesterol deposition continues, your arteries become narrow and can possibly block, leading to insufficient supply of blood and oxygen to affected part or organ of your body.
Cholesterol is not a disease but rather a condition that lays the ground for other diseases, which are serious. Because of this, symptoms of high cholesterol are not apparent. Any narrowing or blockage of arteries leading to your legs causes peripheral artery disease, which leads to severe pain while walking. Narrowing or blockage to arteries leading to the brain is serious because it can easily lead to stroke. Heart attacks and severe chest pains are likely with narrowing or blockage of arteries leading to the heart. In most cases, arterial blockage occurs when high cholesterol deposits rapture or break away, flowing through the blood and eventually blocking the artery at some point. Although symptoms of high are not very apparent, you are likely to experience temporary loss of vision, dizziness, general body weakness, tingling sensation on one part of your body and abdominal pains.
Causes of High Cholestrol
Your bad cholesterol may be a result of various factors, some of which you may not be able to eliminate but can manage. These include:
- Your diet – Although cholesterol occurs naturally in your body, part of your blood cholesterol comes from your diet. Eating food high in cholesterol definitely increases your cholesterol levels.
- Genes – Although you may inherit high cholesterol condition from your parents, you can also have the condition in case of gene mutation, which is related to lifestyle factors.
- Obesity/overweight – Being obese or overweight is a major cause of high cholesterol.
- Age – The risk of high cholesterol increases as you age. However, most cases are reported in men below 55 years and in women above 55 years.
The line between normal cholesterol and bad cholesterol is very thin. This is because cholesterol level is determined by various factors including other health factors such as triglyceride levels. Triglycerides and cholesterol are closely related and it turns out that with high cholesterol, you will also have high triglyceride level. Ideally, your normal cholesterol ratio should be 4mmol/1: ldl cholesterol of 2mmol/1. In this case, low density lipoprotein (ldl) leads to bad cholesterol in that the level of enzyme responsible for breaking down triglyceride is low. In contrast, hdl (high density lipoprotein) leads to normal or good cholesterol because of sufficient levels of responsible enzyme. Although cholesterol tests have relied on ldl cholesterol and hdl cholesterol ratios in calculating the level of cholesterol in the blood stream, more advanced methods of determining cholesterol levels have since been developed.
Although treatment medications for high cholesterol are available, self-care is the best treatment available. Self-care incorporates various factors that end up lowering cholesterol naturally.
- Avoid Risk Factors – Avoiding risks factors such as quitting smoking, managing diabetes and high blood pressure and addressing obesity/overweight.
- Diet – Avoiding high cholesterol foods including fats goes a long way in lowering cholesterol. Instead of common fats, saturated fats are highly recommended.
- Exercise – Although performing exercises does not affect cholesterol levels in any way, exercises greatly reduces triglyceride levels, which is good for lowering cholesterol level.
High cholesterol level pause serious health risks and it is only important that you go for regular checks. Doing so also lets you know your triglycerides level, which is related to cholesterol.