Cholesterol is a type of fat that occurs naturally in all body cells. It has health value in that it is used to make hormones as well as well as playing an important role in cell formation. However, high levels of cholesterol are detrimental to body health and can result in the prescription of cholesterol medication.
There are two types of cholesterol:
- High-density lipoprotein-this is the protective type of cholesterol and is also called “good cholesterol”.
- Low density lipoprotein-too much of this type of cholesterol in the body is harmful to your health. It is also referred to as bad cholesterol.
Things that affect cholesterol levels
There are many things that affect cholesterol levels in our bodies, key among them being:
- Age- people above the age of 20 tend to have their cholesterol levels increased.
- Obesity and being overweight-this leads to reduced levels of high-density lipoprotein.
- Family history- high cholesterol levels tend to be generic hence there is a high chance of one having high cholesterol levels if his family members had or have high cholesterol levels.
- Foods you ingest-eating fatty foods increases the chances of high cholesterol levels in the body.
Causes of high cholesterol in our bodies
- Being physically inactive
- Having a large waist circumference
- Eating a diet with high fat concentration
There are some health conditions that can result in high levels of cholesterol in the body
- Liver problems
- Type 2 diabetes
- Kidney problems
- Inherited conditions such as type 3 hyperlipidemia and polygenic hypercholesterolemia
A cholesterol test is conducted by undergoing a blood test, which measures all the fats in your blood.
Symptoms of high cholesterol
- Coronary artery disease
This is mainly depicted by:
- Presence of chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
Presence of extreme levels of cholesterol in the body can lead to reduced or no supply of blood to important parts of the brain. This can result in a stroke. It is, however, important to seek medical advice if you happen to experience the following symptoms:
- Face numbness
- Sudden recurring severe headaches
- Facial asymmetry
- Sudden loss of coordination and balance
- One side of the body is unable to move.
- Heart attack
Accumulation of cholesterol along the arteries can result in the arteries narrowing. The buildup of plaque can cause a piece of it to break off, causing a blood clot which can block the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscles. Due to this, a heart attack may occur. Symptoms of heart attack include:
- Excessive fatigue
- Difficulty in breathing
- Chest pains
- Peripheral arterial disease
This is caused by the buildup of plaques in the arteries. This causes blockage of blood supply to important body organs such as arms, stomach, and kidneys. Some symptoms of this disease include:
- Pain in the legs during exercise
- General discomfort in the legs
How to reduce cholesterol levels
Cholesterol levels can be reduced by:
- Eating less of trans fats as well as dietary cholesterol
- Substituting animal proteins with plant sources such as beans
- Eating fewer refines grains such as white pasta and white flour
- Regular exercise
Foods to reduce cholesterol levels
There are some foods, commonly called cholesterol busters, which help in reducing cholesterol levels in the body. These foods include:
- Soya foods
- Oats and barley
- Fruits and vegetables
- Vegetable oils
- Fiber supplements
Normal cholesterol levels are achieved by maintaining a healthy diet always.
What are the cholesterol medicines?
This is mainly treated as the last option in reducing levels of cholesterol in the body. There are several drugs that doctors recommend as cholesterol medication, the common one being the statin. Statins include
However, statins are only recommended if the benefits outweigh the risks since the drugs have some side effects such as liver damage and intestinal problems.