What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat (called lipid) which is required by body to work properly. Your body can both produce cholesterol and obtain it from dietary sources. There are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Low Density Lipoproteins (Bad Cholesterol)
- Low Density Lipoproteins also known as (LDL) or “bad cholesterols” because this type of cholesterol is deposited on the artery walls.
- This causes the formation of a hard thick substance called cholesterol plaque.
- Lower levels of LDL cholesterol reflect a lower risk of heart disease. Elevated levels are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
High Density Lipoproteins (Good Cholesterol)
- High Density Lipoproteins also known as (HDL) or good cholesterol because they perform the function of removing cholesterol from the blood vessels and carrying them back to the liver.
- They also help in preventing accumulation of cholesterol in the blood vessels.
- Exercising regularly and having a healthy diet would help to increasing HDL levels.
- The triglycerides are a form of fat made by the body.
- Higher levels of triglycerides can be due to obesity, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption among others.
- People with high triglycerides generally have high total cholesterol level including a high LDL level and a low HDL level.
- Most individuals who have diabetes or heart disease generally have higher triglycerides levels.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
Most people with high cholesterol have no signs or symptoms. You and your doctor will not be able to detect it; among the symptoms which may be manifested include :
- Angina or chest pain or discomfort due to atherosclerosis of coronary blood vessels
- Intermittent claudication or pain over the feet while walking a certain distance. This is because of atherosclerosis of blood vessels in the feet.
- Blood clot or hemorrhage of the blood vessels in the brain because of narrowing or ruptured vessels leading to stroke or mini stroke.
- Heart attack caused by ruptured plaque and subsequent coronary thrombosis and obstruction of blood flow to the heart muscle. Yellow deposits over the skin especially around the eyes called Xanthelasma. The yellow deposits are due to fat deposition and usually indicates high cholesterol in the blood. Xanthoma is commonly seen especially among those with familial hypercholesterolemia.
How can any individual prevent high cholesterol?
Hereditary and diet have a significant influence on a person’s HDL, LDL and total cholesterol level. Diet that is high in saturated fats and cholesterol raise the levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Most individuals can prevent high cholesterol by adhering to the following recommendations:
- Quit smoking
- Eat less of dairy products.
- Eat high fiber (vegetables, oats, beans and fruits), low fat (avoid red meats and egg yolks) and low carbohydrate (avoid refine sugars) diet.
- Lose Weight (Optimize Body Mass Index. Concentrate on reducing fat over abdomen).
- Exercise 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week.
- Take medications whenever recommended by the doctor.
- Medication for lowering of cholesterol should be taken only after consulting the physician.
Prepare by : Ph. Tee