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How Does Cholesterol Affect Health

What Causes High Ldl Cholesterol Levels

Ask Dr. Michler: How Does High Cholesterol Affect Heart Health?

There are a number of factors that may cause your LDL cholesterol to rise and stay high over time.

Saturated fat intake can increase your LDL cholesterol levels. Food containing saturated fat include dairy products, meat, poultry, seafood and fish, eggs, coconut, palm oil, and many baked goods, fried foods, and fast food items.

Your genetic makeup may also put you at a higher risk of having higher than desired cholesterol levels. In other words, if you have a family history of high LDL cholesterol, its possible that there may be some DNA-related reasons for this. Around 10-15% of the population are hyper-absorbers of dietary cholesterol, for instance. Keep in mind that if you do have a genetic predisposition towards elevated LDL cholesterol levels, this doesnt mean its out of your control. It just means that you may need to pay more attention and that you have a lot to gain from optimized diet and exercise habits.

Other factors that may raise your cholesterol include:

  • Advancing age
  • Inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Taking certain medications

Ways To Lower Cholesterol

Check your own cholesterol level and if it’s high, ask to have your kids’ levels checked.

Here are 5 ways to help keep your family’s cholesterol in control:

  • Serve a heart-healthy diet, including:- vegetables, fruit, and whole grains- lean meats and poultry, fish, nuts, beans, and soy products- nonfat or low-fat milk and dairy products- healthy fats, like those found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils
  • Limit drinks and foods with added sugars.
  • Read nutrition facts labels so that you can limit cholesterol and saturated fat and trans fat.
  • Encourage plenty of exercise. Exercise helps boost HDL levels in the blood and that’s a good thing! Kids and teens should be physically active at least 60 minutes a day.
  • Help your kids keep a healthy weight.
  • It’s important to make healthy living a family effort. The steps you take to improve your family’s lifestyle will have a positive effect on your family’s health now and far into the future.

    Cholesterol In The Body

    Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance that circulates in our blood, explains Luke Laffin, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. It’s produced by the liver and, because of genetic and lifestyle differences, some people make more cholesterol than others.

    The body needs cholesterol to build cells, according to the American Heart Association. But too much cholesterol can build up and form plaques that clog arteries, making them stiff and narrow, so it’s difficult for blood to circulate freely in the body. This condition is called atherosclerosis, and it raises a person’s risk for blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.

    There are two types of cholesterol: LDL, which stands for low-density lipoprotein, and HDL, which stands for high-density lipoprotein. LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” cholesterol, because it increases the risk of plaque buildup.

    HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is considered “good” cholesterol because it transports cholesterol molecules from the bloodstream back to the liver for disposal, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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    What Happens If You Have High Cholesterol

    What does high cholesterol mean?

    High cholesterol means there is too much cholesterol in your blood. This can clog up your arteries the large blood vessels that carry blood around your body. Over time, this can lead to serious problems.

    How does cholesterol clog up your arteries?

    Excess cholesterol can be laid down in the walls of your arteries. Fatty areas known as plaques can form, and these become harder with time, making the arteries stiffer and narrower. This process is called atherosclerosis.

    • Narrowed arteries

      When the arteries become narrower, its harder for blood to flow through them. This puts a strain on your heart because it has to work harder to pump blood around your body. Eventually, the heart can become weak and cant work as well as it should.

    • Blood clots

      Blood clots can form over the fatty, hardened parts of the arteries. The blood clots can block the artery completely, cutting off the blood flow. Bits of the blood clots can break away and become lodged in an artery or vein in another part of the body, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

    How Cholesterol Moves Around The Body

    The Effects of Cholesterol on the Body

    Cholesterol is a white, insoluble and waxy substance. It is carried around the body by two key transport systems in the blood, which include:

    • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol carries most of the cholesterol that is delivered to cells. It is called the bad cholesterol because when its level in the bloodstream is high, it can clog up your arteries.
    • High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is called the good cholesterol, because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells, including cells in the arteries.

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    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of High Cholesterol

    High cholesterol generally doesnt have obvious symptoms, but it can increase the risk of serious health conditions if left untreated. Thats why its important to get a blood test and regular check-ups. If you are 45 or older , see your doctor for a cholesterol test as part of a Heart Health Check. If you have a family history of high cholesterol, speak to your GP about your heart disease risk.

    Reduce Your Intake Of Saturated And Trans Fats

    Adopt and follow a healthy diet thats low in saturated and trans fats. A diet high in these fats can raise levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood.

    Saturated fat is usually solid at room temperature. Its found in animal products such as meat and dairy, but also in palm oil, coconut oil and full-cream milk. Read more about saturated fat-rich foods here.

    Trans fats are found in store-bought baked goods, snack foods and deep-fried foods. There is strong evidence that trans fats increase levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, while decreasing levels of HDL cholesterol.

    Some foods contain cholesterol . Foods that contain cholesterol include liver, pate, kidneys, prawns and egg yolks. These types of food are not usually eaten in large quantities, so its OK to include them in your diet in small amounts.

    Foods that contain saturated fats have a greater effect on blood cholesterol levels than foods that contain dietary cholesterol.

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    What Causes High Cholesterol If I Eat Healthy Can It Be Genetic

    If you eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise but still have high cholesterol, your DNA may be a bigger factor than your lifestyle. About 1 in 250 people in the United States live with familial hypercholesterolemia , a life-threatening inherited disorder that causes high cholesterol.

    Unfortunately, 90 percent of people who have it dont know it, according to the FH Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in Pasadena, California. Screening for high cholesterol is the only way to identify people who have FH. Because of this, all children should have a cholesterol screening once between ages 9 and 11, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    If your LDL is above 100, its already considered high. If its higher than 190, you may have FH, according to leading heart groups, such as the AHA, the American College of Cardiology, and the National Lipid Association. If a parent has FH, their child has a chance of having it, too. Finding out if you have FH and getting treated if you do is vital, because having FH means your risk of heart disease is 20 times higher than that of people who dont have inherited high cholesterol, according to the FH Foundation.

    How Can I Lower My Cholesterol Naturally

    10 Ways High Cholesterol Affects Your Health

    For many people, revamping everyday habits can go a long way toward lowering cholesterol without medication. There are a number of lifestyle changes that can be made, and they fall under the categories of diet and exercise, says Dr. Khandwalla.

    Eating heart-healthy foods is a great place to start. This means reducing your intake of red meat and full-fat dairy products, both of which contain saturated fats that raise cholesterol. Instead, focus on eating lean proteins chicken, turkey, seafood and adding more soluble fiber to your diet from fruits, vegetables, and oatmeal, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute . Getting aerobic exercise most days of the week can also help lower cholesterol.

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    Cholesterol In The Brain

    Similar to the liver, the brain produces cholesterol for itself. In fact, the brain has the highest cholesterol content of any organ in the body. Most of the brains cholesterol exists in the axons of nerve cells, where it protects cells and facilitates quick transmission of the electrical impulses. This has a big impact on how thought, movement, and sensation are controlled.

    The reason the brain creates its own cholesterol is thatcholesterol in the blood does not cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning that braincholesterol is used and recycled in the brain. There is one problem here,however. Some versions of cholesterol lowering drugs, commonly referred to asstatins, can cross the blood brain barrier and therefore reduce the level ofcholesterol in the brain.

    Scientists are still learning about the role of cholesterolin the brain, as well as the drugs they use to manipulate it and how they affectmemory, dementia and risk of stroke.

    A study from the University of California, Davis Alzheimers Disease Research Center concluded that higher levels of LDL cholesterol and lower levels of HDL cholesterol were both related to having more of amyloid plaques in the brain, a signature of people suffering from Alzheimers.

    But as they learn more, researchers uncover trends thatindicate previous findings are not always concrete.

    High Cholesterol Can Lead To Erectile Dysfunction

    Let’s say you’re a man, ready for some romantic time with your special someone. The mood lighting’s set and you’re feeling amorous, but horror of horrors — you’re having a hard time getting an erection. While erectile dysfunction has a variety of culprits, including stress, fatigue, certain prescription drugs and prostate problems, you may have high cholesterol to blame. Too much cholesterol clogs your arteries and restricts blood flow. Restricted blood flow is bad news for your penis because getting an erection depends on blood traveling to your nether region and accumulating there. If you’re experiencing a problem maintaining an erection, see your doctor. One of the first things the doctor is likely to check is your cholesterol count, which means you may only need to make some simple changes to your diet and exercise routine to get back in the groove.

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    What Is Dangerously High Cholesterol

    You may be diagnosed with borderline-high or high cholesterol if your blood test results show:

    • Total cholesterol higher than 200 milligrams per deciliter
    • LDL cholesterol higher than 100 mg/dL
    • Triglycerides over 150 mg/dL
    • HDL cholesterol lower than 40 mg/dL

    But what do these numbers really mean for your health?

    While having high cholesterol isnt something youll notice day to day, it does mean youre at risk for or may already have heart disease, the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States.

    Want to know more? Here are answers to 11 frequently asked questions about high cholesterol.

    Is There A Good Or Bad Cholesterol

    How Does Cholesterol Levels Affect Your Health?

    All cholesterol is carried in the blood by different particles and there are different types, but the best known are LDL and HDL. LDL are responsible for carrying cholesterol from the liver to all the cells of the body. Low-density lipoprotein is responsible for transporting cholesterol from the liver to all the cells of the body. The cholesterol attached to it is called bad cholesterol because its low density causes it to be deposited on the walls of the arteries, forming atherosclerotic plaques that gradually block the arteries. It is then used for storage and excretion. The cholesterol that is attached to it is called good cholesterol.

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    What Does Ldl Cholesterol Do

    LDL is considered the bad cholesterol. It carries cholesterol to your arteries, where it may collect in the vessel walls and contribute to plaque formation, known as atherosclerosis. This can lead to decreased blood flow to the heart muscle , leg muscles , or abrupt closure of an artery in the heart or brain, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Over a third of the US population has high LDL cholesterol. Diagnosis is made via blood testing, so if you dont check, you wont know.

    For LDL, the lower the number the better. A good goal to keep in mind is less than 130 mg/dL if you dont have atherosclerotic disease or diabetes. It should be no more than 100 mg/dL, or even 70mg/dL, if you have any of those conditions or high total cholesterol. Its very important to set your own target cholesterol levels with your doctor. Obesity, a large waist circumference, a sedentary lifestyle, or a diet rich in red meat, full-fat dairy, saturated fat, trans fats, and processed foods can lead to high LDL cholesterol.

    How Does Cholesterol Affect The Body More Faqs

    A waxy substance carried by lipoprotein through blood that can be bad for your blood flow if accumulated too much in the blood vessels is called cholesterol. Actually, not all types of cholesterol are bad for your body. HDL or High Density Lipoprotein is a kind of good cholesterol. Having high HDL is good because it can help control and lower your bad cholesterol . On the other side, getting increased of LDL can be harmful for your heart and cardiovascular system.

    How does cholesterol help the body?

    Though cholesterol is often associated with the increased risk of some medical health problems , but actually your body needs it to support some bodys functions. In appropriate level, cholesterol can help body continue building and making more healthy cells. Another activity in the body that involves cholesterol is the productions of vitamin D, certain hormones, and other substances to help digest foods.

    But the body itself is able to make its own cholesterol. In other words, naturally your body doesnt need any cholesterol from outside because it can produce all the cholesterol it needs.

    In general, its perfectly normal for anyone to have cholesterol. The problem is when it raises higher than normal due to you stick with diet high in cholesterol and saturated fats this can be harmful for your entire health, particularly for your membrane plasma and cardiovascular system.

    How does HDL help control your bad cholesterol ?

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    High Cholesterol And The Eyes: Signs And Symptoms

    Johnstone M. Kim, MD, is board-certified in ophthalmology. He’s a practicing physician at Midwest Retina in Dublin, Ohio and previously served as a full-time faculty member at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit, Michigan.

    Your body needs some cholesterol, a type of fat, to function properly. However, having too much cholesterol in your blood can negatively affect your health.

    Your doctor can test your blood to find out what your cholesterol levels are, but you might also have signs or symptomssome of which may affect your eyes.

    Here is what you should know about the signs and symptoms of high cholesterol that might show up in and around your eyes, and when you should see a doctor for them.

    Verywell / Michela Buttignol

    S To Lower Cholesterol And Risks Of Related Diseases

    Optimizing Brain Health: How Fat and Cholesterol Affect the Brain

    A few simple changes can lower your cholesterol and cut your risk for conditions linked to high cholesterol.

  • Ask for expert advice on lifestyle changes. Your doctor can help you come up with a plan for healthy eating and exercise.
  • Give your diet a makeover. Go for foods like oatmeal, walnuts, tuna, salmon, sardines, and tofu. Stay away from things that are high in trans and saturated fats and simple sugars.
  • No smoking. It lowers your âgoodâ cholesterol. If you quit, youâll have more of it. There are lots of other benefits for your whole body.
  • Get moving! Even modest amounts of exercise, like half an hour a day of brisk walking, help you control weight. Itâs also good for other things that put you at risk for heart disease, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise can lower your triglyceride levels and raise your âgoodâ cholesterol. Both are good for your heart.
  • Take your medications. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help lower your cholesterol. Take them as directed. Questions? Ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Recommended Reading: Ldl Cholesterol Effects

    When To See A Doctor

    If you notice a gradual change in your vision, its important to tell your eye doctor. An eye exam can help them pinpoint what is causing your eyesight to change.

    Some of the eye conditions that are related to high cholesterol, including xanthelasma and arcus senilis, do not typically cause vision changes.

    If you experience a sudden loss in vision or you are seeing floaters for the first time, make an urgent appointment with your eye doctor. If your eye doctor is not available, go to the emergency room.

    You Aren’t Eating Healthy

    A diet that is high in saturated fat, trans fat, and/or refined sugars can adversely affect your cholesterol levels by causing your LDL cholesterol levels to increase and your HDL cholesterol levels to decrease.

    The American Heart Association recommends that only about 5 to 6% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Refined sugars and trans fatswhich are introduced into various foods, including cookies, cakes, and chipsshould be limited or avoided entirely.

    Whenever in doubt, always check the nutrition label on food packages for the amount of each of these items. If the food you are eating is not packagedyou can usually find out the type and amount of fat and sugar that is present in most foods by checking online.

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