Do you know about 48% of American adults (1) have high cholesterol, which leads to stroke and heart attack, two leading causes of death in the United States? So, we are sure you’ve probably never even thought about the risks of high cholesterol.
Even more frightening with the risks of high cholesterol is that high cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms; you only know when you go through a screening or have a stroke or heart attack.
So, in that case, it’s vital to know about the risks of high cholesterol, its causes, symptoms, and ways to lower your high cholesterol level. At the end of this article, we will discuss some effective diets that can help control cholesterol. So, go through the entire article.
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What is Cholesterol?
Your body already has cholesterol (2) in your blood in the form of a waxy substance. However, you can also get it from daily food consumption. Its presence builds cells, vitamins, and hormones, but with an increase in its level, the chances of having heart disease raises.
Furthermore, it’s well-known that fatty substances in the arteries that block blood circulation lead to heart attacks. Now when looking at the cause of these fats, we find high levels of cholesterol among the list. That’s how it is directly responsible for heart disease. When talking about fatty substances that block blood circulation, sometimes they burst and make clotting which causes sudden heart attacks.
Once you know that high levels of cholesterol causes severe health conditions, it’s important to know the symptoms, so you can instantly consult a doctor. Also, know the causes, so you can prevent the condition from the start. In addition, we should also know what other damages are done by high levels of cholesterol. Last, it’s necessary to know that healthy activities, including exercise, diets, and medications can cure or control high cholesterol level.
We’ll discuss all these thoughts in the article, so go through the entire article to learn the best solutions to help you mitigate the risks of high cholesterol
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
There’s no clear symptom to tell you that you might have a higher cholesterol level. The reason is that, basically, it leads to a heart attack when the damage has already been done. It means when the plaque formed inside the blood arteries has already blocked the blood flow. In that case, you’ll get a severe heart attack which shows your cholesterol level was high beyond the optimal level.
However, the best practice you can do is once you turn 40, regularly check your cholesterol level through blood tests with your annual checkup. If you are overweight, have higher blood pressure, or smoke, you need to get tested sooner. Instead, you may need to check your cholesterol level multiple times a year.
Causes of High Cholesterol
Before we move toward causes, it’s important to know more about cholesterol and terms like low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein for better understanding. We know that cholesterol is attached to protein and carried through your blood. This cholesterol and protein combination is called a lipoprotein.
Now, these lipoproteins (3) can be of different types depending on what they carry — low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein. The low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are bad ones and cause a blockage that leads to a heart attack. On the other hand, high-density lipoproteins (HDL) are good ones and transport cholesterol to the liver.
So, your diet, physical activity, and medication can lead to LDL generation or HDL. Generally, some health conditions (4) that raise cholesterol levels include diabetes, kidney diseases, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and hypothyroidism. In addition, high blood pressure, acne, cancer, and organ transplant are also the main reasons.
Risks of High Cholesterol on Health
Depending on the type of blood vessels clotted by higher cholesterol levels, you can be at risk, and heart attack is the most common. Let’s see what other risks of high cholesterol you may encounter.
1. Heart Attack
We have already discussed earlier that higher cholesterol levels build up plaque in the blood arteries that ends up bursting and causing blood blockage. As a result, a lack of oxygen can lead to a heart attack (5). What’s more frightening about this condition is that you don’t feel any symptoms until the situation happens. However, there are some symptoms that you can feel before having a heart attack, including dizziness, nausea, tightness, anxiety, and excess fatigue.
When there’s a blockage in reaching the blood to the brain, it leads to (6) stroke. As a result of the blockage, oxygen is not provided to the brain and becomes the only reason for stroke. Once you have a stroke, it’s highly recommended that you instantly consult a doctor. You may feel confused, slurring words, sudden dizziness, and loss of balance, numbness in the face, blurred vision, and severe headache due to this condition.
3. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
As the cholesterol level increases, blood clotting (7) occurs, burst leads to heart attack, and there are chances of blockage of blood circulation in peripheral arteries as well. These are outside the brain and heart. When the above situation happens, blood circulation is stopped in these arteries that leads to problems in the hands, feet, and sometimes kidneys as well.
4. High Blood Pressure
Higher blood pressure (8) and higher cholesterol levels are directly interlinked. Once your body has reached a higher cholesterol level, it leads to higher blood pressure. As the blood circulation stops, the heart puts more pressure on circulation. As a result, your blood pressure rises beyond the optimal levels. To learn how to lower your high blood pressure, read my article, How You Can Lower Your High Blood Pressure in 5 Easy Steps.
5. Type 2 Diabetes
Let’s recall what we have learned already — a decrease in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) leads to blood-blocked situations that lead to a heart attack. So, type 2 diabetes is another reason that raising the LDL while reducing HDL can lead to a situation where you’re at higher risk of a heart attack.
Why Is It Important to Control Your Cholesterol?
You can never let your cholesterol level fall too much or rise too high as it may lead to severe health conditions, and heart attack and stroke are most common among all. In that case, it’s important (9) that you keep your cholesterol level controlled by lowering the LDL amount and raising the HDL in your blood.
In that situation, your cholesterol will be at an optimal level, making healthy conditions for your body. Also, keep checking your cholesterol level to avoid instant attacks and to take necessary precautions. Otherwise, since there’s no clear symptom in this condition, it becomes even more necessary to get regular screenings. In case you smoke a lot, are obese, or are overweight, check your cholesterol levels multiple times a year.
How to Control Your Cholesterol Level?
Consider the same diet recommended for lowering high blood pressure levels. In doing that, choose a diet based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Lower the number of bad fats and consider foods with a good fat amount. Since smoking and being overweight is a major contributor, quit smoking and make regular exercise a habit for at least 30 minutes a day. Prevent excessive alcohol consumption and avoid situations that lead to depression and anxiety. Last, the DASH diet is proven as one of the most effective diets that help in lowering high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol levels.
How to Monitor Cholesterol Level?
As there’s no symptom for this severe condition, it’s important that you monitor your cholesterol level. In doing that, consult your doctor and take an annual screening test (10). Also, if you smoke, are overweight, or have diabetes disease, consider multiple check-ups a year. That’s how you’re going to monitor your cholesterol level. Besides, keep a good diet, exercise, and medication if necessary.
Common Myths About Cholesterol
Most people think all cholesterol is bad for health, but as we discussed earlier, LDL is bad while HDL is good for a healthy body. Another common myth that you hear from people is that I would feel if I had a cholesterol problem. In reality, there’s no symptom, and you know it when you get a stroke or heart attack. In addition, some people think that eating too much food can raise the cholesterol level but eating healthy food can never boost the cholesterol level, no matter how much you eat. However, regular exercise is necessary besides eating healthy foods.
Recommended Diet to Control Cholesterol Level
We went through many case studies when looking for the best diet that controls cholesterol levels. In doing that, we came across the DASH diet and created a case study where this diet helped in controlling blood pressure which is one of the common causes of high cholesterol levels. Also, the diet is highly recommended by nutritionists and health coaches.
Now that you know the risks of high cholesterol and how fatal it can be, it’s time to get yourself tested for it as soon as possible. If you hear the bad news about your increased cholesterol, there’s no need to worry. Instead, start regular exercise, the recommended diet, take medications if required, and stay positive to avoid depression which can lead to bad habits and increased cholesterol.
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