Too Much Cholesterol

Feb 8 by

The Effects of Too Much Cholesterol.

Experts suggest that people over 20 have their cholesterol levels tested every five years because high cholesterol levels can have drastic effects on a person’s health over time. A test report will show a person’s cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and break down a person’s levels by total cholesterol, HDL levels, and LDL levels. A healthy person will have a total cholesterol level below 200mg/dL with less than 100mg/dL of LDL. A total cholesterol rate above 240mg/dL with LDL levels above 160mg/dL will put a person at a very high risk for the following diseases. High cholesterol alone has no symptoms so it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle before any of these diseases strike.

Artherosclerosis

Most of the diseases stemming from high cholesterol levels start with artherosclerosis. This ailment occurs when cholesterol builds up in the walls of the body’s arteries into plaque. The arteries are vital for healthy functioning as they carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body. As plaque builds up the arteries harden, becoming less flexible and the space for blood to flow becomes narrower. Plaques can also become fragile and break off traveling throughout the body and eventually forming blood clots. If a blood clot forms it will block other blood cells from traveling through the artery. Oxygen and important nutrients will no longer be able to access certain parts of the body. This can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is also known as coronary artery disease as it is caused by the narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Some people can have CHD without any symptoms while others can have very noticeable symptoms. Discomfort in the chest area is called angina. The pain is caused by the heart not getting enough blood or oxygen. Chest pain can either feel like a sharp jab that comes and goes around the left side of the chest, back, abdomen, or arm. It can also feel like a heavy weight as if someone was squeezing you under the breastbone. This latter pain is usually triggered by intense activities or emotions. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, and heart attack. In some cases the first sign of CHD is a heart attack.

Stroke

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is blocked or bursts. Since blood and oxygen are no longer arriving, that part of the brain starts to die and the part of the body controlled by that part of the brain stops functioning properly. Brain damage can occur within minutes of a stroke so it is important to know the symptoms and get help fast. Symptoms include numbness or paralysis in the face, arm, or leg; trouble seeing with one or both eyes, confusion or trouble understanding, slurred speech, trouble walking, and a severe headache are also important symptoms to remember.

Although the effects of high cholesterol are severe these conditions are not inevitable. Leading a healthy lifestyle by eating the right foods and exercising regularly can help bypass these conditions entirely.

Strategies for Reducing Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels can lead to artheriosclerosis, heart disease and stroke. So it helps to know how to lower your cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, lowering cholesterol is not always easy and may involve lifestyle changes. The best ways to lower cholesterol are to change your diet, exercise, and as a last resort take medications.

 

Change Your Diet

Healthy eating is perhaps the number one way to keep your cholesterol under control. Cholesterol helps you digest fats, but that means after eating a fatty meal your body creates more cholesterol to help digest it. So to keep your cholesterol under control, avoid foods that are high in cholesterol and foods that are high in saturated fats. Foods such as eggs yolks, fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, certain oils, and many processed foods contain saturated fat and cholesterol; so they should be avoided. Foods sold in grocery stores will have nutrition labels on them, but beware – even foods that say “No cholesterol” on them may be harmful to your cholesterol levels because of the fat content.

On the other hand, certain foods are good for you and may help lower cholesterol levels. Foods rich in soluble fiber such as oatmeal, kidney beans, and apples can help lower LDL cholesterol by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. Research shows that walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that can significantly reduce blood cholesterol and keep blood vessels healthy. Foods rich in omega-3s such as fish and olive oil are also good for lowering cholesterol.

Exercise

Exercise can help you raise your HDL or “good cholesterol”, improve circulation in the body, and to lose weight. Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease and high cholesterol levels. It can increase the number of triglycerides in your body and lower your HDL levels. Thus, exercising and shedding extra pounds could help you get your cholesterol levels back under control. Exercise will also boost circulation throughout your body by making your heart stronger and helping to clear away any clots in the blood vessels. Fortunately, you do not have to join any marathons to lower cholesterol. Rather, doing any physical activity for 30 minutes a day a few times a week could help. This could involve gardening, cleaning the house, or a walk around the block.

Take Medications

Medications should be a last resort as many medicines can have side effects or be costly. However, if changes to your diet and exercise regimen are not working it may be time to see a doctor who can prescribe the right medications. Several different types of medications currently exist. Some inhibit cholesterol production in the liver while others cause cholesterol to be used up and processed into other forms. Your doctor can decide on the right medication for you. Yet, even if you are taking medications you should continue to eat healthy and exercise regularly.

If you have high cholesterol levels, all is not lost. You can be proactive and make changes to your life. There are also medications available to help you.

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