Cholesterol Basics: Types, Risk Factors, Levels, and Treatment.



Understanding Cholesterol

Do you have high cholesterol? Do you know how you can lower your cholesterol level? So, let us see how cholesterol can be lowered. First, what is it?

Cholesterol is a substance similar to fat. The body makes its own cholesterol, mainly produced by the liver. Cholesterol is also taken into the body through food from animals, dairy products, and egg yolks.

Cholesterol is essential to the proper function of the body. Without cholesterol, the body will not be able to produce any vitamin D, hormones, or bile acids to assist in the digestion of fat. The cholesterol produced by the body is just sufficient for its needs. However, with cholesterol intake from external sources, the amount can exceed what is required. When this happens, such health problems as heart diseases can be the result.

A Cause of Heart Disease

The formation of plaque in the arteries reduces the space for the flowing of blood to the heart when there is excessive cholesterol. As more plaque is deposited along the sides of the arterial walls, these arterial walls harden, what we call atherosclerosis, and eventually it results in heart disease.

When insufficient oxygen-rich blood gets through the narrowed artery to the heart, you get a chest pain known as angina. It is just a matter of time before a blood clot lodges in the narrowed artery to effectively prevent any flow of blood to the heart causing a heart attack. Unless treatment is in time, death is imminent.


How cholesterol clogs your arteries (atherosclerosis) -Video Guide


Types of Cholesterol

Cholesterol and a protein are joined together in what is called a lipoprotein as it moves along in the bloodstream. The types of lipoproteins are of HDL (high density), LDL (low density) or VLDL (very low density); the density depending on the amount of protein compared to the fat.

  • VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoproteins): Like LDL, VLDL has much more fat than protein.
  • HDL(High Density Lipoproteins): HDL is known as the €œgood€ cholesterol as it assists the body in removing bad cholesterol. If the level of HDL in the blood is lower than the LDL level, the possibility of heart disease increases. However, with the level of HDL higher than the level of LDL, your risk of having heart disease is lowered.
  • LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins): LDL is also known as a €œbad€ cholesterol as it can be the cause of the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. The higher the level of cholesterol in the body, the possibility of heart disease occurring is greater.
  • Triglycerides: When there are extra calories, alcohol and sugar not used or removed, they are changed into triglycerides and kept in fat cells in the body. It is also found together with low density lipoproteins in the bloodstream.

What Factors Affect Cholesterol Levels?

Given below are many different factors which can cause cholesterol levels to change.

  •  Heredity : A high level of cholesterol can be inherited. Your genes are partly to blame in this case.
  • Diabetes : Badly managed diabetes raises cholesterol levels. The cholesterol level can fall with better management.
  • Age and menopause : Cholesterol levels tend to go up with age.  Women are found to have total cholesterol levels lower than men as old as them before menopause. However, women’€™s LDL levels go up after menopause.
  • Exercise : Exercise can also reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. Exercise for a minimum half an hour a day to get good results.
  • Weight : Excess weight can raise cholesterol levels. So, to increase HDL cholesterol and reduce LDL and total cholesterol, lose some weight.
  • Diet : Cholesterol levels in your body can increase due to the amount of saturated fat as well as cholesterol in the foods you eat. Eat less saturated fat as well as cholesterol.
  • Other causes : High cholesterol can also be due to some medical problems and medications.

see  Type 1 Diabetes Diet Tips.

see  Type 2 Diabetes Diet Tips.

How Much Cholesterol Is Ideal?

Once you reach the age of 20, you should get a cholesterol test at five year intervals.

A fasting cholesterol test or a non-fasting cholesterol test can be chosen. Get your doctor to recommend one of them. For a non-fasting cholesterol test, you get results of total cholesterol as well as HDL cholesterol. When it is a fasting cholesterol test; some refer to it as a lipid profile while others call it lipoprotein analysis; HDL, LDL, total cholesterol as well as triglycerides results will be known.

Depending upon the results of a non-fasting cholesterol test, your doctor may advise you to have the lipid profile as well.

According to medical practitioners, your total cholesterol should be lower than 200.

So, if the total cholesterol is lower than 200, it is considered healthy, while 200 to 239 is considered almost high and above 240 is high.

LDL-HDL- Triglyceride

Your HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels are just as important.

Ways to Lower Cholesterol and Heart Disease Risk.

Below are given ways to reduce cholesterol and heart disease risk:

  • Exercise : There are people who get the HDL cholesterol raised when they exercise. Besides this benefit, moderate exercise done every day be used to control the weight, diabetes as well as high blood pressure which are all factors in heart disease risk.
  • Stop Smoking : Smoking reduces HDL cholesterol levels. HDL (€œgood€) cholesterol levels can be raised once you stop smoking.
  • Consume foods with low cholesterol : According to the AHA (American Heart Association), you must not exceed 300 milligrams intake of cholesterol per day. And for those with heart disease, the limit is 200 milligrams a day. By eating foods with low saturated fats instead of those with high saturated fats and high levels of cholesterol, people can reduce the cholesterol consumed.
  • Take medicine as instructed by your medical practitioner : When diet changes and more exercise cannot lower cholesterol, medicine for lowering cholesterol may have to be prescribed by your medical practitioner.

The Right Treatment for Your Situation.

The main purpose in reducing cholesterol is to lower LDL (€œbad€ cholesterol) and raise your HDL (€œgood€ cholesterol). The 2 ways of reducing cholesterol are a change to a diet with less saturated fats and cholesterol, and the use of medicine to lower cholesterol .

By taking into consideration factors affecting heart disease, your doctor will choose the right treatment for you. Treatment, therefore, depends on your situation.

  • If only one risk factor when it comes to heart disease, your risk is between low and moderate. To control the level of cholesterol, only changes in diet and level of exercise required.
  • If two or more factors for risk of heart disease, your risk can be either moderate or almost-high, depending upon the type of heart disease you are at risk of. You may only need changes in diet and exercise but some may need cholesterol-lowering medication.
  • If you already have risks of diabetes, heart disease, or other linked health problems, your risk is very high and, therefore, you not only require cholesterol-lowering drugs but also changes in diet and exercise to manage your cholesterol levels.


What Drugs Are Used to Treat High Cholesterol?

Below are the names of Cholesterol-lowering drugs.

  • Fibric acid derivatives.
  • Bile-acid resins.
  • Niacin.
  • Statins.

Only one drug, statins, has been proven in its capability for prevention of heart attacks. The effectiveness of these drugs is enhanced when used together with a diet consisting of low cholesterol foods.

*** Posted By Natasha A.Nada ***