What is Cholesterol ?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that your body needs to build its cells and produce certain hormones. It is carried throughout the body by the bloodstream. A small amount of cholesterol is sufficient to meet the needs of the body. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it means that you have high cholesterol. This is a common disorder. cholesterol generally increase with age and may increase your risk of heart disease, stroke (stroke) and peripheral vascular disease.
Most of the cholesterol of the body (about 80%) is synthesized in the liver and rest cholesterol is provided by food consumption(cholesterol comes from animal sources such as eggs, meats and dairy products.). There are 2 main types of cholesterol, it is important to know:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol
- High density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol
Major part of the LDL (bad cholesterol ) circulates in the blood as unused. Normally, liver removes too much cholesterol but a large number of people have more LDL cholesterol than the liver can transform. LDL facilitates the accumulation of plaque (fatty deposits) which are harmful to the walls of the arteries.
Cholesterol HDL is deemed “good” because it removes LDL cholesterol from arteries and tissues and transports it to the liver where it can be decomposed.
What Are The Causes Of Cholesterol ?
Whether high or low, the values of your LDL cholesterol levels are determined by many factors including:
- Age (cholesterol increases with age)
- Alcohol consumption
- The diet balance
- Gender (men have higher cholesterol)
- The level of physical activity
- Body weight
The consumption of high saturated fat foods and dietary cholesterol is another cause of the elevation of the cholesterol. Other factors can also increase your cholesterol, including the lack of physical activity and overweight. In some cases, high cholesterol is an inherited or can be genetic disorder. This disorder makes you more apt to get a heart disease when you are still very young.
Medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, liver disease and kidney disease can cause an elevation of cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol Symptoms And Complications
The LDL-cholesterol is carried in the bloodstream can form fatty deposits on the inner walls of your blood vessels. With time, they form plaques.
In addition, the cholesterol LDL stimulates the proliferation of cells of the inner lining of the arteries which leads to the decrease of their diameter. The plaques can damage and clog the arteries including the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. This process is called atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can cause angina (chest pain), heart attack or a stroke. A high rate of LDL cholesterol accelerates plaque formation and increases the risk of heart attack.
High cholesterol does not usually cause any obvious symptoms. It is a “silent” as the elevation of the blood pressure that gives no warning sign. Most people discover the problem after a blood test and completing a physical examination systematic. They often learn that they also have high blood pressure.
You can observe the symptoms of the complications associated with high cholesterol. These include angina and pain in the calves caused by narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the legs. The main complications caused by high cholesterol are heart disease and stroke.
If your doctor sees the possibility of a high cholesterol in you, you will be tested blood test to check cholesterol in your blood. These analyses usually measure your total cholesterol as well as LDL and HDL. The blood test will likely be on an empty stomach(You will not eat or drink anything except water during the 12 hours before the test).
In this screening process, your doctor will perform a clinical examination and then will ask you questions about your diet, personal and family medical history. Your doctor will check for the presence of other risk factors that can lead to heart disease.
Among the risk factors for heart disease include :
- Family history of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol LDL
- Rate of low HDL cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
Cholesterol Treatment And Prevention
By using a treatment to lower the cholesterol, you will decrease the risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke and many other disorders.
A healthy lifestyle is still the best defense against high cholesterol. It is a way of arming yourself against other risk factors related to coronary artery disease. The following suggestions may guide your first steps towards the development of a treatment against high cholesterol :
Adopt a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol;
Eat a wide variety of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds;
Increase your level of physical activity;
Maintain a healthy weight;
Limit your alcohol consumption to :
No more than 2 drinks per day (or no more than 3 drinks on special occasions) up to a maximum of 10 drinks per week for women;
No more than 3 drinks per day (or no more than 4 drinks on special occasions) up to a maximum of 15 drinks per week for men.
If you stop smoking and prevent the elevation of your blood pressure, you can decrease your risk of angina, heart attack, and stroke.
People who are at great risk of coronary heart disease, should initiate drug treatment immediately and adopt the suggestions on how to make changes in lifestyle.
The drugs are indicated in the treatment of high cholesterol include the “statins” (e.g. atorvastatin , lovastatin, simvastatin), resins (e.g. cholestyramine, colestipol), fibrates (e.g. fenofibrate, gemfibrozil), inhibitors of cholesterol absorption (e.g. ezetimibe) and niacin. The drugs have shown that to reduce the risk of a complete obstruction of the arteries can treat the problems of cholesterol by lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol or raising levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
Some people think that there would be no reason to change their habits if they have already had a heart attack, but this is not true. Lowering your cholesterol is vitally important to prevent another heart attack. Your body constantly produces cholesterol, you need to take your medication and adopt lifestyle changes to prevent the rise in your blood cholesterol.