Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is naturally present in cell walls or membranes everywhere in the body. Your body uses cholesterol to produce many hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids that help you to digest fat.
What is good Cholesterol?
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is referred to as good cholesterol because high levels of HDL seem to protect against heart attack. HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s passed from the body.
What is bad cholesterol?
Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) is referred to as bad cholesterol because it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis
What causes high cholesterol?
A high-fat diet and inherited metabolic factors seem to be the main causes of high cholesterol. However, several drugs and diseases can cause high cholesterol.
What symptoms indicate that you have high cholesterol?
High cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms. The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is to have it checked. This can be done with a simple blood test, called a lipid profile.
How is cholesterol checked?
A simple blood test, called lipid profile, checks for high fats in the blood. You may be asked to fast overnight before the test, hence its name. A fasting protein profile measures total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and triglycerides in your blood.
A lipid profile can be done without fasting, but then only the levels of total cholesterol and HDL(“good”) cholesterol can be measured.
How often should I have my cholesterol checked?
Healthy adults who are aged 20 years or older should have a fasting lipoprotein profile done once every 5 years, adults over 40 years should have it checked as part of a routine annual examination
What kinds of problems are caused by high cholesterol?
High cholesterol causes atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), which lead to blocked coronary arteries, which commonly results in chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Other serious problems, such as blocked arteries to the brain, causing a threatened stroke (transient ischemic attack) and blocked arteries in the legs, causing pain, limping, and possibly even limb loss, are possible.
What are the uncontrollable and controllable risk factors for high cholesterol?
The risk factors you can’t control are your age (for men, 45 years or older; for women, 55 years or older) and your family history of early heart disease (for men, father or brother affected before age 55 years; for women, mother or sister affected before age 65 years).
The risk factors you can control are lowering high blood cholesterol, which is high total cholesterol and high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol. This can be done by stopping smoking, controlling high blood pressure, controlling diabetes, losing weight if overweight/obese, and keeping physically active.
If you have diabetes, your risk of heart disease is high. To reduce your risk, you will need to lower your cholesterol under the supervision of your doctor.
Foods like garlic have shown to have the potential to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and regular intake may help prevent the potential damage which cholesterol can do.