Learning About cholesterol

image https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterol.html

Cholesterol is a fat that comes from animal foods and is also made by the body. Cholesterol helps the body make vitamin D, a few hormones, and bile acids, which break down fat. This is needed by the body in the right amounts to help build new cells so that the body can keep working normally.

In addition, the body needs cholesterol to digest food, make hormones, and make vitamin D. But too much cholesterol is bad for the body because it can lead to several diseases and health problems.

Protein is what moves cholesterol around in the blood. A lipoprotein is what you call the mix of these two things. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also called “bad cholesterol,” and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also called “good cholesterol,” are the two main types of lipoproteins.

LDL is responsible for getting cholesterol from the liver to the cells that need it. But if you have more cholesterol than you need, it can build up on the walls of your arteries and cause disease.

HDL, on the other hand, is in charge of bringing cholesterol back into the liver, which is the opposite of what LDL does. Cholesterol is broken down in the liver or passed out of the body through urine or feces.

Each person has a different ideal level of cholesterol in their blood. Depending on the person, someone is more likely to get arterial disease. In the meantime, a blood test can be used to check the amount or level of cholesterol in the blood.

Why people have high cholesterol

If the amount of cholesterol in the blood is higher than normal, this is called hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol. Serious diseases are more likely to happen if you have high cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy fat mostly made in the liver and is also found in some foods.

People with high cholesterol are more likely to get heart attacks and strokes because too much cholesterol builds up in their blood vessels.

Cholesterol can also be caused by eating high cholesterol foods or not getting enough exercise. Genes can also cause it.

Some things that may make you more likely to have unhealthy levels of cholesterol are:

  • Poor Diet. For instance, if you eat too much saturated or trans fat. Most of the time, fatty meats and full-fat dairy products are good sources of saturated fat. Many packaged snacks and desserts have trans fats.
  • Obesity. People with a body mass index of 30 or more are more likely to have high cholesterol.
  • Not moving enough. The good cholesterol in the body, called HDL, goes up when you work out.
  • Smoke. This habit can lower the amount of good cholesterol or HDL.
  • Alcohol. Your total cholesterol level can increase if you drink too much alcohol.
  • Age. High cholesterol can also happen to children, but it is much more common in people over 40. As we age, the liver’s ability to get rid of LDL cholesterol worsens.

Signs of having high cholesterol

Most of the time, there are no signs or symptoms of high cholesterol. When plaque builds up in the arteries because of high cholesterol, most of the time, new symptoms show up.

Plaque can make the arteries smaller, making it harder for blood to flow through them. When plaque builds up, it changes how the lining of the arteries is set up. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can build up on the walls of the arteries. This can block blood flow to the heart, brain, and other body parts.

High cholesterol makes a person more likely to get narrowed arteries, also called atherosclerosis, blood clots in some parts of the body, small strokes, strokes, and even heart attacks.

High cholesterol can also cause angina, pain in the front of the chest or the arms that gets worse with stress or hard physical work. People with high cholesterol are also more likely to get coronary heart disease.

People with high cholesterol are more likely to have a stroke or heart disease if they don’t change their diet or quit smoking. A chemical called acrolein is found in cigarettes.

This substance can stop good cholesterol, or HDL, from doing its job of moving fat to the liver. Because of this, atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries can happen.

Cholesterol Diagnosis

Checking your blood cholesterol levels is important if you have signs of being overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, or another disease that can raise cholesterol levels.

If you have close relatives with cholesterol-related diseases or a history of heart disease at a young age, you should get your cholesterol levels checked.

Cholesterol is diagnosed based on the results of blood tests and a physical exam, as well as the symptoms the person has. A doctor will also look into the health of the patient’s family. The goal is to determine if high cholesterol levels in the blood are caused by something else.

A lipid panel is a simple blood test used to measure the amount of cholesterol in the body. This test can help you determine how much total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides you have in your blood. Your doctor will take a small amount of blood from you to do this test. The doctor will then send the sample to a lab to be looked at. If your cholesterol or triglyceride levels are too high, the doctor will tell you when the test results return.

Before doing a lipid panel, your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything for at least 12 hours.


Treatment for High Cholesterol

The best way to fight high cholesterol is to change your life, like getting more exercise and eating better. If this doesn’t work, however, most people need more treatment.

The choice of drug or combination of drugs depends on several things, such as the person’s risk factors, age, health, and possible side effects of the drugs. Some common ways to treat patients are:

  • statins. Options include atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pitavastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.
  • Inhibitors of Cholesterol Absorption. For example, the drug ezetimibe can help lower blood cholesterol by making it harder for the body to absorb cholesterol from food. Statin drugs can be taken with ezetimibe.
  • Resin that binds to bile acid. For instance, cholestyramine, colesevelam, and colestipol can indirectly lower cholesterol by binding to bile acids.
  • Drugs That Block PCSK9. It could make the liver take in more LDL cholesterol. Examples of drugs are alirocumab and evolocumab.

If your triglycerides are also high, your doctor may give you:

  • Fibrates. The drugs fenofibrate and gemfibrozil can stop the liver from making very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol and make it easier for the body to get rid of triglycerides.
  • Niacin. It may make it harder for the liver to make LDL and VLDL cholesterol.
  • Supplements with omega-3 fatty acids. This may lower triglycerides. Available with a prescription or without a prescription (OTC).

How to stop high cholesterol

One of the most important things you can do to prevent or lower high cholesterol is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. The diet should have little fat in it.

Try eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (like whole-wheat bread) instead of foods high in saturated fat to keep cholesterol levels in the body low.

A healthy diet and losing weight are important, but overweight people should also try not to smoke.

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