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 Remedies And Lowering Cholesterol
Its very important to talk to your health professional before using any:
- natural remedies
- or complementary therapies.
Sometimes they can do more harm than good. They may interact with any medication that youre taking, which can be dangerous. They can also make your medication less effective. Your doctor needs to know everything that you are taking to ensure that the combination is safe.
If youve been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication, make sure you take it as directed by your doctor. This is one of the most effective ways to keep your cholesterol levels down.
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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Living With High Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, you are twice as likely to develop heart disease. That is why it is important to have your cholesterol levels checked, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. Reducing your LDL bad cholesterol through good diet, exercise, and medicine can make a positive impact on your overall health.
Who Should Be Tested
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini-stroke , or peripheral arterial disease
- are over the age of 40 people over 40 should have their estimate of CVD risk reviewed regularly
- have a family history of early cardiovascular disease for example, if your father or brother developed heart disease or had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55, or if your mother or sister had these conditions before the age of 65
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition, such as familial hypercholesterolaemia
- are overweight or obese
- have high blood pressure or diabetes
- have another medical condition, such as kidney disease, an underactive thyroid, or an inflamed pancreas these conditions can cause increased levels of cholesterol or triglycerides
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Physical Signs Of High Cholesterol You Should Know About
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is developed naturally in the body. It performs several vital functions like rebuilding walls surrounding the bodys cells and converting basic materials into certain hormones.
You only need a small amount of cholesterol and almost all of them are produced by your body. Most of the cholesterol in your body is produced in your liver. The rest of them come from your diet. This kind of dietary cholesterol is present in foods such as eggs, meat, and dairy products.
If you have too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, you have high cholesterol. High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. For this reason, knowing the cholesterol levels in your blood is quite important to prevent any future heart disease and blockages of blood vessels.
There are two main types of cholesterol you should be aware of:
- high-density lipoprotein , or good cholesterol
In other words, high levels of LDL cholesterol can cause more plaque accumulation and increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke and other diseases. On the other hand, high levels of HDL cholesterol can actually help prevent heart attacks and strokes. HDL gains its good name by removing LDL cholesterol from the arteries and tissues and bringing it back to the liver where the excessive LDL cholesterol is broken down.
Risk Factors for High LDL Cholesterol
Physical Signs of High Cholesterol Levels
1. Sore Hands and Feet
2. Frequent Tingling
Can High Cholesterol Cause Erectile Dysfunction
High cholesterol alone is not thought to cause erectile dysfunction , but plaque-clogged arteries can, because blood flow is essential to an erection, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Too much cholesterol may also affect the bodys ability to produce the hormone testosterone, as well as nitric oxide, which helps relax the penile tissue. Both of these factors can lead to ED as well.
The good news is that in older men with both high cholesterol and ED, taking statins medications used to treat high cholesterol is associated with a significant improvement in ED, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiologys 63rd Annual Scientific Session.
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What Is Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral arterial disease — also known as peripheral vascular disease, atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries — is a disorder that occurs in the arteries of the circulatory system. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrient-rich blood from the heart to all areas of the body. PAD occurs in the arteries that carry blood to the arms and legs.
Healthy arteries have a smooth lining that prevents blood from clotting and promotes steady blood flow. In PAD, the arteries slowly become narrowed or blocked when plaque gradually forms inside the artery walls. Plaque is made of excessive fat, cholesterol and other substances floating through the bloodstream, such as inflammatory cells, proteins and calcium. If the arteries become narrowed or blocked, blood cannot get through to nourish organs and other tissues, causing damage to the tissues and eventually tissue death.
The rate at which PAD progresses varies with each individual and depends on many factors, including where in the body the plaque has formed and the persons overall health.
Muscle Pain And Weakness
The most common side effect is muscle pain and weakness, a condition called rhabdomyolysis, most likely due to the depletion of Co-Q10, a nutrient that supports muscle function. Dr. Beatrice Golomb of San Diego, California is currently conducting a series of studies on statin side effects. The industry insists that only 2-3 percent of patients get muscle aches and cramps but in one study, Golomb found that 98 percent of patients taking Lipitor and one-third of the patients taking Mevachor suffered from muscle problems.4 A message board devoted to Lipitor at forum.ditonline.com contained more than 800 posts, many detailing severe side effects. The Lipitor board at www.rxlist.com contains more than 2,600 posts .
The test for muscle wasting or rhabdomyolysis is elevated levels of a chemical called creatine kinase . But many people experience pain and fatigue even though they have normal CK levels.5
John Altrocchi took Mevacor for three years without side effects then he developed calf pain so severe he could hardly walk. He also experienced episodes of temporary memory loss.
Active people are much more likely to develop problems from statin use than those who are sedentary. In a study carried out in Austria, only six out of 22 athletes with familial hypercholesterolemia were able to endure statin treatment.9 The others discontinued treatment because of muscle pain.
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How To Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
If you have high cholesterol, there are ways to lower your levels and reduce your risk of further complications. The first approach is typically making lifestyle changes before retesting again. This includes changes to your diet, stopping smoking, and increasing exercise. If lifestyle changes are not working or not appropriate for you, medication is usually prescribed. The most common type of cholesterol-lowering medications is called statins. They lower the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood and help to reduce your chance of further issues.
Can High Cholesterol Be Prevented Or Avoided
Making healthy food choices and exercising are two ways to reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol.
Eat fewer foods with saturated fats . Choose healthier fats. This includes lean meats, avocados, nuts, and low-fat dairy items. Avoid foods that contain trans fat . Look for foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These foods include salmon, herring, walnuts, and almonds. Some egg brands contain omega-3.
Exercise can be simple. Go for a walk. Take a yoga class. Ride your bike to work. You could even participate in a team sport. Aim to get 30 minutes of activity every day.
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Surprising Body Cues That Could Be A Heart Concern
The classic signs of heart troublechest tightness, pressure or painare far from its only signals. People often fail to connect other symptoms theyre experiencing to their actual cause: the heart. This can result in failing to get the help they need for an emergency heart issue, like heart attack or stroke, or a critical delay in getting possible heart disease diagnosed and treated.
Most people know their bodies better than any doctor does. In general, if you constantly feel something isnt right or isn’t what youre used to, that warrants medical attention, says Parag Joshi, M.D., a cardiology fellow with the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.
Your whole body can be involved in sending the message that somethings wrong with your heart.
What Are The Conditions Associated With Pad
If left untreated, patients with PAD can develop serious health problems, including:
- Heart attack: permanent damage to the heart muscle caused by a lack of blood supply to the heart for an extended time
- Stroke: interruption of the blood flow to the brain
- Transient ischemic attack : a temporary interruption in the blood supply to the brain)
- Renal artery disease or stenosis: a narrowing or blockage of the artery that supplies blood to the kidney
- Amputation: the removal of part or all of the foot or leg , especially in people who also have diabetes
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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.
Taking Control Of Peripheral Arterial Disease
Despite the prevalence of PAD, it is surprisingly underdiagnosed and undertreated . The good news is that, although PAD is a serious condition with potentially serious consequences, it is treatable. Like most health conditions, PAD is more treatable when it is detected early.Being aware that you have risk factors for PAD may motivate you to take action to prevent PAD from developing. The same advice for maintaining a healthy heart applies to maintaining healthy circulation overall:
- Manage your weight
- Eat a low fat, low sugar diet that includes at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day
- Dont smoke.
- With your doctors approval, exercise, doing an activity you enjoy, for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
If you have heart disease, you should discuss your risk factors for PAD with your doctor and report any symptoms you are having such as pain, weakness or numbness in the legs. Your doctor may order a simple test, known as the ankle-brachial index , to diagnose PAD The ABI test involves measuring the blood pressures in the arms and the legs using a hand-held Doppler device.
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What Are The Warning Signs Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol typically doesnt have any symptoms until it is an emergency event. The only way to know if you have a high level of ldl cholesterol is through a blood test. Leaving cholesterol untreated can lead to the buildup of plaque over time, damaging the heart and putting you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Keep an eye out for heart attack or early stroke symptoms like:
Cholesterol Medications Effect On Your Brain
The side-effects or consequences of statin use are not limited to your body. They can also have dramatic effects on your brain!
Weighing only three pounds your brain houses 25% of your bodys total cholesterol. Your brain uses cholesterol to form myelin around its nerves. Cholesterol is so important to your brains health that elderly patients with the highest levels of cholesterol actually have been shown to have the best memory/cognitive function. With all that cholesterol stored in your brain, its not hard to believe that a statin medication will have an effect on your mental health as well.
And thats exactly what the research suggests. Statin medications have been linked to depression, anxiety, irritability, sleep issues, and even suicide. Low levels of cholesterol have shown themselves to be an accurate indicator of depression. High levels of cholesterol were shown to prevent depressive symptoms.
Statin medications have also been linked to cognitive impairment and even Alzheimers disease. While there have not yet been any studies done on the link between statin use and chronic fatigue, the fact that statins affect your brain health should make you cautious. Those with CFS often report brain fog and/or cognitive impairment. Avoiding medications that are known to contribute to these symptoms are best avoided.
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How High Cholesterol Is Diagnosed
High cholesterol rarely results in any obvious symptoms. For this reason, a blood test is the only way to diagnose high cholesterol. Cholesterol is measured with a blood test called a lipid panel. This test can help determine your risk of atherosclerosis, which is a build-up of plaque that narrows or blocks arteries.
Target cholesterol levels vary based on factors such as age and family history.
Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal Axis Dysfunction
HPA-D also known as adrenal fatigue can cause elevation in cholesterol levels through several mechanisms.
- Cortisol which is the main stress hormone can lead to elevations in insulin leading to insulin resistance
- Poor sleep can lead to adrenal dysfunction, high cortisol and weight gain, another cause of insulin resistance
- Gut infections can cause high cortisol
- Stress from home or work like imbalance is another cause of high cortisol
- Chronic stress leads to inflammation one of the drivers behind oxidized LDL and heart disease.
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Can I Live Long With High Cholesterol
Untreated or undertreated high cholesterol is associated with a lower life span due to the risk of heart attack and stroke, but its still possible to live a long life with high cholesterol, provided you follow a heart-healthy lifestyle and take medication if needed. According to a study published in April 2018 in the journal Circulation, a healthy lifestyle defined as not smoking, doing moderate exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and following a healthy diet was associated with an average of 14 more years of life for women and 12 for men.
Additional reporting by Erica Patino
How To Balance Your Cholesterol Without Using Medication
Youve been told for years to stop eating high-fat foods theyll only raise your cholesterol . But a lot of new research suggests this simply isnt true. Researchers got on the fat is bad train way back in the 1950s. And that belief system has maintained a firm grip on our consciousness for the last 60+ years. Even when new research suggests this simply isnt the case.
The cholesterol you consume in your diet has little to no impact on your blood levels of cholesterol. Now let me insert an exception to this rule those with specific genetic traits will see an increase in their blood cholesterol levels as a result of the food they eat. For the other 75% of you, your food will not impact your cholesterol. Bring on the keto diets!
If fat doesnt alter your cholesterol, what does?
A modern, industrialized diet. More specifically, a diet high in refined carbohydrates. A diet high in refined carbohydrates negatively aggravates cholesterol levels and is associated with increased triglycerides and small LDL particles, decreased HDL, diabetes, and obesity. If you want to lower your cholesterol levels, you need to eat healthy fats. And lots of them.
You also need to significantly reduce your carbohydrate intake. Especially refined carbohydrates. A large study of low-carbohydrate diets found this type of diet decreased your risk of cardiovascular disease, lowered blood sugar levels, and even decreased inflammatory markers in your body.
Now, I want to hear from you!
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