What is high cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance mainly found in the blood and body cells. It is the role of the liver to produce cholesterol in the body. As an external source cholesterol comes from the food we eat. It travels in the bloodstream packed up in bundles known as lipoproteins.
In a condition of high cholesterol, deposition of fat occurs in the blood vessels. Gradually, over the period of time, it makes completely difficult for the bloodstream to flow through these arteries. Because of that, the heart is not able to receive sufficient amount of oxygen-rich blood supply and finally increasing the risk of a heart attack. Stroke can be next possibility by reduction of blood supply to the brain. High cholesterol has no symptoms which can help its diagnosis except the blood tests which is the only way to confirm it.
What are the types of cholesterol?
There are mainly two types of cholesterol which include:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL):
It is the preferred as unhealthy or bad type among both the cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can build up over the time in the arteries and can lead to the formation of fatty and wax-like deposition known as plaques.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL):
It is the preferred as the healthy or good type amongst both the cholesterol. It helps in transportation of excessive cholesterol present the arteries to the liver, which further eliminates it from the body.
When to book a doctor’s appointment?
Reach out to your doctor if you have any concerns about cholesterol test. Chances are high to develop high cholesterol levels with increasing age and also in obese people. Why wait till the cholesterol problem becomes complicated know your Cholesterol Levels by a simple test.
In a healthy person getting cholesterol levels, every two to three years is acceptable. However, it is always better to go for it in your yearly health checkups. If the results are not within the range then your doctor might want you to go for cholesterol tests more often. Also if you have any diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac issues, smoking habit or any family history of high cholesterol it is advisable to opt for frequent tests for cholesterol. Since there are high chances to develop it sooner or later.
What are the main complications of high cholesterol?
Among both, the cholesterols having an excess of LDL cholesterol can be problematic. Its accumulation in the arteries over the time can impose some risks. The best possible way to avoid the buildup of high amounts of cholesterol in the body is to keep a check over it by getting the tests done at regular intervals.
Eating a healthy diet and regular exercise and medications can help preventing following complications which arise as a result over other organs of the body:
High levels of LDL cholesterol in the body can cause its accumulation in the arteries. It further causes clogging of the arteries and making them loose flexibility. It makes the arteries hard which is known as atherosclerosis. Blood flow gets affected in the stiff arteries in result the heart works harder to pump and push blood through it. The buildup of plaque might take few years in the arteries but once it is there heart disease is more than welcome any time soon.
Disruption of the oxygen-rich blood flow in the arteries might cause chest pain known as angina. It is a warning of approaching heart attack. Plaque can even split into pieces and turn into the clot to entirely clog the artery leading to stroke or heart attack. It might even lead to peripheral artery disease in which blood supply to arms, legs, stomach, and feet is blocked by the presence of plaque.
Cholesterol helps the glands in hormone production of testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol. Further hormone levels affect the cholesterol levels of the body. Women are more prone to heart diseases after menopause because their estrogen levels drop remarkably causing low HDL and high LDL. High LDL leads to several cardiac issues. Growth hormone deficiency can also cause high LDL.
Further hypothyroidism causes high LDL and total cholesterol levels whereas hyperthyroidism shows a contrary effect. In males during treatment of prostate cancer with androgen deprivation therapy reduction in male hormone causes high LDL.
In the human brain cholesterol is one of the several other essential components. The brain contains nearly 20 percent of the cholesterol content present in the body. This type of fat, required for the protection and development of the neurons which is the basic unit of the nervous system. The nerve cells or neurons are solely responsible for helping in communication with various parts of the body.
Some desired amount of healthy cholesterol, required for the proper functioning of the nervous system whereas an excess of it can cause damage. Excessive cholesterol might lead to stroke in which disruption of the blood flow causes damage to some parts of the brain. It might even affect various body functions, movement capability, and memory as well.
High level of blood cholesterol, impact the memory and mental issues in several researches. High blood cholesterol initiates the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, a sticky protein deposition that causes brain damage, especially in Alzheimer disease patients.
In the digestive system, cholesterol helps in the production of bile which further helps in the breakdown of food and its absorption in the intestine. However, an excess of cholesterol in bile leads to the formation of crystals which turns out to be gallstones of the gallbladder. It is a painful disease condition and might require a surgery for stone removal.
Cholesterol entirely is not bad. The body requires some amount of cholesterol for the production of hormones, digestive fluids, and vitamin D. It further helps in the proper functioning of all the organs in the body. However, LDL is the unhealthy, keep LDL in control before it can trigger any further complications in future.