Everything You Need To Know About High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance our body needs for the formation of cells, certain hormones and vitamin D. Our body produces cholesterol and its also found in some foods. There are both good and bad types of cholesterol in our body. If we produce too much of the bad cholesterol, it can lead to many health problems, including heart attack or stroke.
Although bad for our bodies, high cholesterol usually causes no symptoms, unless at very high levels. Thats why its important to get your cholesterol levels checked regularly.
Natural Treatments For High Cholesterol
In addition to lifestyle changes and medication, some foods and supplements can help reduce cholesterol levels, research shows. Its important to note that no natural food or supplement has been proven more effective than most cholesterol medications. Talk with your doctor before adding any supplement or alternative treatment to your routine.
Natural products that can be effective in lowering cholesterol include:
- Flaxseed, which studies show may help lower cholesterol when consumed as whole flaxseed or flaxseed lignans. Flaxseed oil has not been shown to have a significant effect on cholesterol levels. Pregnant women should avoid flaxseed as it may cause hormonal changes.
- Garlic supplements, which one study found lowered overall cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by 10% when taken for more than two months.
- Green tea, which may have moderate benefits for reducing overall cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. However, studies have not shown any effect of green tea on increasing HDL cholesterol.
- Oats, which have consistently been shown to help lower total and LDL cholesterol, particularly in people who start with very high cholesterol levels.
- Soy foods, which have been shown to have a small effect on lowering cholesterol levels.
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Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid. It is vital for the normal functioning of the body. Cell membranes, hormones and vitamin D are created by your body using cholesterol. However, having too much cholesterol can create disastrous effects on the body and feeling pain in your arms could indicate your levels are dangerously high.
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When There Are High Cholesterol Levels In The Body
There are different ways to measure cholesterol in the body. You may be familiar with total cholesterol, LDL cholesterolalso known as the bad cholesterol, and HDLaka the good cholesterol, and how these levels affect heart health. You may also know how too much of this fatty substance can also lead to a buildup of fat in the arteries, which may cause atherosclerosis, a disease that slows or stops blood flow.
But having too much cholesterol in the body can cause other health problems, specifically, it may cause the formation of gallstones. There are two types of gallstonescholesterol stones and pigment stones. Cholesterol stones are made mostly of hardened cholesterol, and are usually yellowish-green in color, while Pigment stones are made of bilirubin, and are the stones are usually small and dark in color. Cholesterol stones are the most common type of gallstone to develop, occurring in approximately 80% of patients with gallstones.
Gallstones can be as small as grains of sand or as big as golf balls. Smaller stones are more common, though bigger stones do develop.
Cardiovascular And Circulatory Systems
When you have too much LDL cholesterol in your body it can build up in your arteries, clogging them and making them less flexible. Hardening of the arteries is called atherosclerosis. Blood doesnt flow as well through stiff arteries, so your heart has to work harder to push blood through them. Over time, as plaque builds up in your arteries, you can develop heart disease.
Plaque buildup in coronary arteries can disrupt the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. This may cause chest pain called angina. Angina isnt a heart attack, but it is a temporary disruption of blood flow. Its a warning that youre at risk for a heart attack. A piece of plaque can eventually break off and form a clot or the artery may continue to become narrowed which can fully block blood flow to your heart, leading to a heart attack. If this process occurs in the arteries going to the brain or within the brain it can lead to a stroke.
Plaque can also block the flow of blood to arteries that supply blood to your intestinal tract, legs, and feet. This is called peripheral arterial disease .
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How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
You cant tell if you have high cholesterol without having it checked. A simple blood test will reveal your cholesterol level.
Men 35 years of age and older and women 45 years of age and older should have their cholesterol checked. Men and women 20 years of age and older who have risk factors for heart disease should have their cholesterol checked. Teens may need to be checked if they are taking certain medicines or have a strong family history of high cholesterol. Ask your doctor how often you should have your cholesterol checked.
Risk factors for heart disease include:
- Cigarette smoking.
- Having an immediate family member who has had heart disease.
- Being overweight or obese.
The Heart Of The Matter
Cholesterol affects every single cell, organ, and biological process that makes you you. Everyone has it, and everyone needs it but the goal is to have more of the good kind and less of the less-good kind.
High cholesterol usually shows up without warning there arent really any physical symptoms to rely on. If left untreated, high LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
Get a regular physical and blood test! Its the only reliable detection method.
High cholesterol is treatable. Its usually managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Theres a lot you can do to help prevent high cholesterol:
- Stick to a healthy diet.
- Get regular exercise.
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What Are The Treatments For High Cholesterol
Your healthcare provider may recommend treating high cholesterol with lifestyle changes alone or in combination with medications to actively lower your cholesterol level. Lifestyle changes include eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, getting adequate physical exercise, and quitting smoking.
However, you may also need treatment with medications. Your doctor may order further blood tests to analyze specific inflammatory biomarkers and determine your individual need for cholesterol-lowering medication.
Medications used to treat high cholesterol include:
- Bile acid resins or sequestrants, such as cholestyramine and colesevelam , which help your body eliminate or remove cholesterol from the blood
- Ezetimibe , which prevents the absorption of cholesterol from the foods you eat
- Fibrates or fibric acid derivatives, such as fenofibrate and gemfibrozil , which help reduce triglycerides and increase the amount of high-density lipoprotein in your blood
- Niacin or nicotinic acid , which helps your body increase HDL levels while decreasing the amount of low-density lipoprotein levels and triglycerides in your blood
- Statins, such as simvastatin and , which reduce the amount of cholesterol the liver produces
You can help control your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by following the treatment plan you and your healthcare provider design specifically for you
How To Prevent High Cholesterol
As with many other conditions, preventing high cholesterol from occurring in the first place is better than a cure because of the range of controllable risk factors. To prevent high cholesterol, you should:
Eat a nutritious diet low in fat and salt
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Quit or avoid taking up smoking
Ensure you get regular exercise
Manage your stress levels.
If you think you may be at risk of high cholesterol levels, or if you havent had your cholesterol levels checked recently, contact your GP today.
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Signs Of A Medical Emergency
A heart attack doesnt always include chest pain. You may be having a heart attack if you have sudden chest pain along with any of the following symptoms:
Angina is sometimes confused with a heart attack. Unlike a heart attack, angina doesnt cause permanent damage to heart tissue.
There are two main types of angina: stable and unstable. Stable angina is predictable. It comes on when youre physically active and the heart is pumping harder than usual. It tends to disappear when you rest.
Unstable angina can appear at any time, even when youre sitting down and relaxed. Unstable angina is a more serious concern because it strongly indicates youre at a greater risk of a heart attack.
If you arent sure whether youre experiencing angina or a heart attack, err on the side of caution and call your local emergency services. If you experience either type of angina, you should make an appointment to see your doctor soon.
What To Make Of All Of This
I find that many patients will tend to over value their absolute cholesterol levels rather than the entirety of their risk profile. While these levels are important, they only tell one chapter in what is essence the book of your cardiac risk story.
Ultimately, you as the patient and I as the physician care about your risk of having a heart attack or stroke and taking steps to gauge that risk accurately. Those numbers on your cholesterol blood tests tell only a fraction of that risk. Whether through a risk calculator or through a Coronary Calcium Scan, risk assessment is an important step in helping to decide if your risk need to be treated.
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Could Heartburn Be A Sign Of High Cholesterol
Gallstones or gallbladder disease silently lurks in about 80% of the people it affects. The other 20% may experience an intense pain, or what is commonly known as a “gallbladder attack,” which may often occur after eating a fatty meal.
Sometimes the symptoms of gallstones can be mistaken for heartburn because people are more familiar with heartburn. But the conditions are different from each other.
Symptoms of gallstones include:
- Pain in the upper abdomen that rapidly worsens and can last from a few minutes to several hours
- Pain in the back between the shoulder blades
- Pain under the right shoulder
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Numbness In The Body Parts
If you are constantly experiencing numbness in your body parts, then high cholesterol can be responsible for that. However, other causes can also be responsible for numbness and swelling.
When bad cholesterol appears high in your body, it affects blood circulation and prevents healthy nutrients from reaching the body. The lack of proper oxygen is also a cause of swelling and unusual numbness.
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What Is Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance your liver makes to protect nerves and to make cell tissue and certain hormones. Your body also gets cholesterol from the food you eat. This includes eggs, meats, and dairy. Too much bad cholesterol can be bad for your health. There is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.
What You Can Do
Learn the basics: âYour cholesterolâ isnât just one number, but several that together give your doctor a âlipid profile.â Unhealthy levels are linked to hardening of the arteries, which can cause heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Your numbers include âbadâ and âgoodâ cholesterol, and triglycerides. Armed with this knowledge, and with the help and guidance of your doctor, you can start to understand and manage your own levels.
Get tested: Because unhealthy cholesterol numbers often donât cause symptoms, especially at first, itâs important to get tested. You can be slim and feel healthy and still have a cholesterol problem. Once you know thereâs a problem, you can try to change it through diet, lifestyle, and, if necessary, medication. But youâre unlikely to do that if you donât know about it. If youâre 20 or older, you should get your levels checked every 4 to 6 years. Your doctor should test you more often if youâre overweight or diabetic or you have heart disease.
Exercise: Regular exercise is one of the best ways to control your cholesterol. You donât have to run a marathon. A half-hour or so of brisk walking, swimming, or dancing three or four times a week should do the trick. If youâre short on time, you can break it into 10-minute increments throughout the day. Resistance training — pushups, pullups, weights — may help too.
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Could High Cholesterol Be Causing Your Chest Pain
Do you sometimes feel pain, pressure, or discomfort in your chest? If so, you may have angina, a condition in which your heart doesnt get enough of the oxygen-rich blood it needs.
Angina can have a variety of causes, but the most common is coronary heart disease, which occurs when a waxy substance known as plaque builds up in the arteries. Plaque can accumulate in your arteries when you have high cholesterol.
If you have chest pain related to high cholesterol and plaque buildup, you need to understand your condition and your symptoms. The dedicated team of providers here at HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC would like to share the following facts about chest pain and cholesterol.
How Do Doctors Diagnose High Cholesterol
Experts recommend a routine cholesterol screening every 4 to 6 years. A cholesterol screening is an overall look at, or profile of the fats in your blood. It is typically part of a blood test called a full lipid profile, which shows the actual levels of each type of fat in your blood: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and others, as well as total cholesterol. Depending on your personal health factors and medical history, your doctor may recommend testing your cholesterol more often.
Testing is important because high blood cholesterol is a significant risk factor in andstroke. Lowering blood cholesterol through increased physical activity, weight loss, smoking cessation, and proper diet decreases that risk. However, blood cholesterol is very specific to each person. For that reason, a full lipid profile is an important part of your medical history and essential information for your doctor to have.
If abnormalities are discovered a second series of blood tests may be ordered to help your doctor better understand your clinical situation. For example, different cholesterol subunits respond better to different medications. Other subunits do not respond to medication and, in that case, none may be prescribed.
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Cholesterol And Cardiovascular Health
Cholesterol is a waxy substance thats produced by your liver. It plays a key role in forming cell membranes and synthesizing certain hormones, as well as vitamin D. A healthy liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs.
We also get cholesterol from the foods we eat. If we eat a lot of high-cholesterol foods, we can wind up with too much cholesterol in our blood. Because its sticky, cholesterol can stick to artery walls, forming plaques that narrow the arteries and stiffen them, making it a lot harder for blood to circulate.
When blood flow slows down, it can prevent your heart from getting the oxygen they need to work normally. Eventually, you can develop coronary artery disease, the leading cause of heart disease and death in the United States.
How To Handle Side Effects
Donât stop taking your cholesterol drugs even if they donât make you feel great. Instead, talk to your doctor. There are a few ways they might be able to help you feel better:
Take a brief break. If you have muscle pain, your doctor may tell you to stop taking your drug for a short time and then start it again within a month. The time off can show if your medicine is causing the pain or if itâs due to another problem.
Check your other meds. If you take cholesterol drugs and other medicines, you might be more likely to have side effects. Tell your doctor about everything you take, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter meds, and supplements.
Get a lower dosage. Your doctor may try to reduce how much of your medicine you take. You might also be able to take a pill every other day instead of daily.
Switch treatments. If your side effects are too hard to handle, you might be able to try a different statin such pravastatin and rosuvastatin , which are less likely to cause muscle aches.The cholesterol drug ezetimibe may allow you to take a lower statin dose and thereby help relieve your muscle pain, for example.
Consider OTC treatments. Statins may lower levels of a substance in your muscles called coenzyme Q10, and that can cause pain. You may try taking CoQ10 supplements to get relief. Another option, L-carnitine, might help, too. But always talk to your doctor before you start taking any medicine, even ones you buy without a prescription.
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Study Causing Some Chest Pains Over Cholesterol Drug
The real purpose of cholesterol-lowering medications like Lipitor is to reduce atherosclerosis, the buildup of cholesterol within the lining of blood vessels. Since its impractical to peek inside blood vessels to see how our treatment is going, we
The real purpose of cholesterol-lowering medications like Lipitor is to reduce atherosclerosis, the buildup of cholesterol within the lining of blood vessels.
Since its impractical to peek inside blood vessels to see how our treatment is going, we follow serum cholesterol levels instead. Theyre easy to check, and theyve proved to be a reliable indicator for whats happening on the inside. Controlling A seems to lead to good outcome B.
Thats why Mondays press release from Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of the cholesterol medication Zetia, came as such a shock to physicians and to the millions of patients taking the drug. The company released data from a self-sponsored, two-year study that followed a group of patients with severe cholesterol problems. The patients took either simvastatin or Vytorin, a combination drug produced by Merck that includes Zetia and simvastatin.
Both drugs showed powerful reductions in levels of LDL , which fell 41 percent in the group on just simvastatin alone, and 58 percent for those taking the simvastatin/Zetia combination of Vytorin.
No matter the caller, the question was, Should patients stop taking Zetia?