How Can I Prevent High Cholesterol
Here are a few things you can do to keep your cholesterol under control:
- Eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
- Limit drinks and foods that have a lot of fat or sugar, like sugary drinks, treats, and fried foods.
- Get plenty of exercise. Experts recommend at least 60 minutes every day!
Myth: I Cant Do Anything To Change My Cholesterol Levels
Fact: You can do many things to improve your cholesterol levels and keep them in a healthy range!
- Get tested at least every 5 years .1,2 Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
- Make healthy food choices. Limit foods high in saturated fats. Choose foods naturally high in fiber and unsaturated fats. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDCs nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
- Be active every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Learn more about physical activity basics and tips.
- Dont smoke or use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Learn more about tobacco use and ways to quit at CDCs smoking and tobacco use website.
- Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol if any medicines are given to you to manage your cholesterol, take them as they are prescribed. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
- Know your family history. If your parents or other immediate family members have high cholesterol, you probably should be tested more often. You could have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia .
What Happens During Sleep
Sleep is a time when your body restores and recharges. It releases hormones that help your tissues and cells repair after the stress of your waking hours. Your blood pressure drops, your heart rate slows, and your breathing relaxes. Your heart recovers from its hard work during the day.
Most adults should aim for 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night.
What happens if you donât get enough of that rest? You may develop health problems that can lead to high cholesterol.
In a study of 2,705 adults, people who tended to sleep too little each night were more likely to have high triglycerides and low HDL, or âgood,â cholesterol, although their LDL, or âbad,â cholesterol levels werenât affected by their sleep. People who slept 8 hours a night had the highest HDL numbers.
Why does sleep affect cholesterol? If you donât get enough shuteye, key hormones can get out of whack. Your body may produce too much of the stress hormone cortisol and the appetite-boosting hormone ghrelin, but too little leptin, which regulates body weight. This hormone imbalance can drive your cholesterol out of balance too.
Poor sleep quality may affect cholesterol, too. People with interrupted sleep because of sleep apnea — when breathing stops and starts throughout the night — often have high total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in their blood, and low levels of HDL cholesterol. People with sleep apnea tend to be overweight, too, which may lead to high cholesterol.
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The Difference Between Good And Bad Cholesterol
If cholesterol is so necessary, why is it sometimes described as “bad” and at other times as “good?”
Your liver packages cholesterol into so-called lipoproteins, which are combinations of lipids and proteins. Lipoproteins operate like commuter buses that carry cholesterol, other lipids like triglycerides, fat-soluble vitamins, and other substances through the bloodstream to the cells that need them.
- Low-density lipoproteins, sometimes called bad cholesterol, gets its bad reputation from the fact that high levels of it are associated with increasing your risk of heart disease. LDL contains more cholesterol than protein, making it lighter in weight. LDL travels through the bloodstream and carries cholesterol to cells that need it. When it becomes oxidized, LDL can promote inflammation and force lipids to accumulate on the walls of vessels in the heart and rest of the body, forming plaques. These plaques can thicken and may limit or completely block blood and nutrients to affected tissues or organs.
- HDLor high-density lipoproteinsis also commonly referred to as “good cholesterol.” HDL is heavier than LDL because it contains more protein and less cholesterol. HDL gets its good reputation from the fact that it takes cholesterol from the cells and brings it to the liver. Having higher levels of HDL may also help lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
How Do You Prepare For A Cholesterol Test
In most cases, youll need to fast for nine to 12 hours before the test. Make sure you tell the person drawing your blood how long it has been since you ate or drank anything that wasnt water.
There are some cases when a cholesterol test is done without fasting. This is true for tests done at health screenings and may be true for people younger than 20 or for people who are unable to fast.
Some medical societies believe that fasting is not necessary to get a true picture of lipid levels in the blood, while other associations stand by the belief that fasting gives a better idea of a persons heart disease risk. You should be clear on whether or not you need to fast, and for how long, before you go for the blood test.
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What Is The Difference Between Good Cholesterol And Bad Cholesterol
Good cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein . It removes cholesterol from the bloodstream. Low-density lipoprotein is the bad cholesterol.
If your total cholesterol level is high because of a high LDL level, you may be at higher risk of heart disease or stroke. But, if your total cholesterol level is high only because of a high HDL level, youre probably not at higher risk.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood. When you eat more calories than your body can use, it turns the extra calories into triglycerides.
Changing your lifestyle can improve your cholesterol levels, lower LDL and triglycerides, and raise HDL.
Your ideal cholesterol level will depend on your risk for heart disease.
- Total cholesterol level less than 200 is best, but it depends on your HDL and LDL levels.
- LDL cholesterol levels less than 130 is best, but this depends on your risk for heart disease.
- HDL cholesterol levels 60 or higher reduces your risk for heart disease.
- Triglycerides less than 150 milligrams per deciliter is best.
What Is Cholesterol And How Does Arteriosclerosis Develop
The human body needs cholesterol to work properly. For example, cholesterol is needed to make certain hormones and it is an important building block for cell walls. But too much cholesterol in the blood can sometimes mean an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cholesterol is needed by every cell in the human body. Most of it is made in the liver. Only a small proportion comes from our diet. The bloodstream transports cholesterol from the liver to the other organs and tissues in the body. Spare cholesterol is carried back to the liver in the bloodstream.
Although cholesterol is often referred to as a blood fat, chemically speaking that is not quite correct. But, like fats, cholesterol does not dissolve in water , so our bodies need a special system to transport it. Cholesterol is packed into tiny parcels in the liver. The parcels are made up of cholesterol, proteins, fats and other things in our blood. They can be transported through our bodies in the bloodstream. Because they are mainly made up of lipids and proteins, the parcels are called lipoproteins. There are two different kinds of lipoproteins, which differ in how densely they are packed:
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Why Do We Need Cholesterol
Cholesterol plays a vital role in how your body works. There is cholesterol in every cell in your body, and it’s especially important in your brain, nerves and skin.
Cholesterol has three main jobs:
- Its part of the outer layer, or membrane, of all your bodys cells
- Its used to make vitamin D and steroid hormones which keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy
- Its used to make bile, which helps to digest the fats you eat
Myth: All Cholesterol Is Bad For You
Fact: Some types of cholesterol are essential for good health. Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and building cells. Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:
- LDL , sometimes called bad cholesterol, makes up most of your bodys cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- HDL , or good cholesterol, carries cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque. As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing can restrict and eventually block blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina or a heart attack.
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The Facts About Cholesterol
Can You Burn Off Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of lipid, just as fats are. However, unlike fat, cholesterol can’t be exercised off, sweated out or burned for energy. It is found only in animal products, including meat, chicken, fish, eggs, organ meats and high-fat dairy products.
Is Cholesterol Good or Bad?
Just as homemade oil-and-vinegar dressing separates into a watery pool with a fat-slick topping, so also would fats and cholesterol if they were dumped directly into the blood. To solve this dilemma, the body transports fat and cholesterol by coating them with a water-soluble “bubble” of protein. This protein-fat bubble is called a lipoprotein.
- Low-density lipoproteins carry cholesterol to the tissues. This is “bad” cholesterol, since high LDL levels are linked to increased risk for heart disease.
- High-density lipoproteins carry excess cholesterol back to the liver, which processes and excretes the cholesterol. HDLs are “good” cholesterol The more HDL you have, the lower your risk for developing heart disease.
- HDLs and LDLs are found only in your blood, not in food.
Test Your Cholesterol
Your risk for heart disease can be assessed with a blood-cholesterol test. In this test, your total-cholesterol reading should approximate the sum of your LDL, HDL and other lipoproteins. If you have 3.5 mg of total cholesterol, or less, for every 1 mg of HDLs, then your cholesterol ratio is ideal. According to guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program:
How Does The Body Make Cholesterol
All cells can make their own cholesterol, but liver cells are especially good at it. Only liver cells are capable of making more than they need for themselvesand shipping it out to other parts of the body.
Remember how it takes more than 30 chemical reactions to build one molecule of cholesterol? The most important of all of these steps is step #3. In this step, a critical enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase converts a molecule called HMG-CoA into another molecule called mevalonate. Once this step occurs, theres no turning back, so its a big commitment. This reaction is the one that determines whether or not cholesterol gets made. Therefore, the enzyme that runs this reaction, HMG-CoA reductase, is very importantits like the foreman in charge of the cholesterol assembly line. This enzyme needs to be carefully controlled, because we dont want cells wasting their time and energy building expensive cholesterol molecules willy-nilly.
The activity of this critical enzyme HMG-CoA reductase is controlled primarily by two things:
This is where things get really interesting. It makes sense that HMG-CoA reductase would respond to the cells cholesterol levelsif the cells levels are low, you want to turn that enzyme on, so you can make more cholesterol, and if the cell has enough cholesterol, you want to turn that enzyme off and stop making cholesterol. But what is insulin doing in the mix?
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High Cholesterol Levels Increase The Risk Of Arteriosclerosis
In recent years, researchers have changed their mind about how LDL cholesterol influences the risk of cardiovascular disease. It used to be thought that excess cholesterol simply builds up on the walls of blood vessels. But that has turned out not to be true. Depending on their age and lifestyle, most people have small inflammations in the walls of their blood vessels. These can develop in different ways. In people who have high LDL cholesterol, the phagocytes in blood eat more cholesterol particles. This means that cholesterol is more likely to stick to the walls of affected blood vessels.
Inflammations can also weaken the blood vessel wall, which might then tear. If blood suddenly comes into contact with the cholesterol-rich deposits as a result, a blood clot might form. That is because our bodies try to seal the wound in the blood vessel wall, just like when scabs form if you cut your skin.
Inflammations can develop in any artery in the body. They are particularly dangerous in the large arteries that carry blood to the brain and heart. Narrow coronary blood vessels can cause chest pain during physical strain. If a coronary blood vessel becomes blocked, blood will no longer flow to part of the heart muscle, which might result in a heart attack. If a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked, it might lead to a stroke.
What Can Raise My Risk Of High Cholesterol
A variety of things can raise your risk for high cholesterol:
- Age. Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older. Even though it is less common, younger people, including children and teens, can also have high cholesterol.
- Heredity. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
- Weight. Being overweight or having obesity raises your cholesterol level.
- Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.
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Why Dietary Cholesterol Does Not Matter
High blood cholesterol levels are a known risk factor for heart disease.
For decades, people have been told that the dietary cholesterol in foods raises blood cholesterol levels and causes heart disease.
This idea may have been a rational conclusion based on the available science 50 years ago, but better, more recent evidence doesnt support it.
This article takes a close look at the current research on dietary cholesterol and the role it plays in blood cholesterol levels and heart disease.
Where Is Cholesterol Made
Some of our cholesterol comes from the food we eat, but most is made in the liver in a complex 37-step process.
The lipoproteins are then released into the blood and carried around the body to wherever they’re needed.
Medical Guidelines And Recommendations
In 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that Americans eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible, because most foods that are rich in cholesterol are also high in saturated fat and thereby may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Previously, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that dietary cholesterol be no more than 300 mg per day. The DGAC dropped this recommendation because evidence showed no appreciable relationship between dietary and serum cholesterol, consistent with the 2013 report by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. Although there is a link between cholesterol and atherosclerosis, a 2014 review concluded there is insufficient evidence to support the recommendation of high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats for cardiovascular health.
Some supplemental guidelines have recommended doses of phytosterols in the 1.63.0 grams per day range . A recent meta-analysis demonstrating a 12% reduction in LDL-cholesterol at a mean dose of 2.1 grams per day. However, the benefits of a diet supplemented with phytosterols have also been questioned.
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How The Fat You Eat Affects Cholesterol Levels
The relationship between the fat we eat and our health, particularly our cardiovascular health, has been hotly debated for many years.
Heres what you need to know:
Not all fats are created equally.
The kinds of fat you eat matter more than the amount.
There are different types of fats in our diet:
Polyunsaturated fats: essential and important nutrients
Monounsaturated fats: can come from plant or animal products and are generally considered healthy
Saturated fats: less healthy than mono- and polyunsaturated fats
Trans fats: unhealthy fats
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Plasma Transport And Regulation Of Absorption
As an isolated molecule, cholesterol is only minimally soluble in water, or hydrophilic. Because of this, it dissolves in blood at exceedingly small concentrations. To be transported effectively, cholesterol is instead packaged within lipoproteins, complex discoidal particles with exterior amphiphilic proteins and lipids, whose outward-facing surfaces are water-soluble and inward-facing surfaces are lipid-soluble. This allows it to travel through the blood via emulsification. Unbound cholesterol, being amphipathic, is transported in the monolayer surface of the lipoprotein particle along with phospholipids and proteins. Cholesterol esters bound to fatty acid, on the other hand, are transported within the fatty hydrophilic core of the lipoprotein, along with triglyceride.
There are several types of lipoproteins in the blood. In order of increasing density, they are chylomicrons, very-low-density lipoprotein , intermediate-density lipoprotein , low-density lipoprotein , and high-density lipoprotein . Lower protein/lipid ratios make for less dense lipoproteins. Cholesterol within different lipoproteins is identical, although some is carried as its native “free” alcohol form , while others as fatty acyl esters, known also as cholesterol esters, within the particles.