Why Is High Cholesterol A Problem
Too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can harden arteries and promote fatty deposits within these arteries, potentially leading to dangerous blockages and narrowing over time called atherosclerosis.
If the blood vessels leading to your heart become too clogged, blood supply to your heart is reduced, which can lead to symptoms such as angina . If the artery becomes completely blocked, it can lead to a heart attack and stroke, which can be life threatening.
In 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 43, 477 deaths in Australia from heart disease. This is approximately 30 per cent of all deaths in Australia, and most deaths are occurring in those aged 65 years and over.
However, heart disease takes years to develop, so you can take steps to reduce your risk.If you discover you have high cholesterol, have family members with high cholesterol, or are not sure if youre at risk, it is advisable you seek your doctors advice.
Other risk factors for heart disease include increased age, ethnicity, family history, inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity.If these risk factors are present in your life, its even more important to keep your blood cholesterol levels in check and seek your doctors advice.
can help you begin to assess your risk, but we strongly advise you discuss your risk with your GP as this tool does have limitations it doesnt take your family history into account, for example.
Healthy Eating Tips To Lower Cholesterol
As well as sticking to a varied and healthy diet, try these tips to help you manage your cholesterol:
- The Heart Foundation recommends that people follow a heart-healthy eating pattern, which is built on eating mostly plant-based foods. Eating more plant-based foods like vegetables, legumes, fruit, wholegrains, nuts and seeds is good for heart health.
- Include legumes , beans in at least two meals a week. Check food labels and choose the lowest sodium products.
- Beans make a great alternative to meat in tacos, or snack on hummus with vegetable sticks. You can also add legumes to soups, pasta sauces, curries and stews.
- Use tofu or lentils instead of meat in stir fries or curries.
What Can Affect My Ldl Level
Things that can affect your LDL level include
- Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level rise
- Weight. Being overweight tends to raise your LDL level, lower your HDL level, and increase your total cholesterol level
- Physical Activity. A lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain, which can raise your LDL level
- Smoking.Cigarette smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL from your arteries, if you have less HDL, that can contribute to you having a higher LDL level.
- Age and Sex. As women and men get older, their cholesterol levels rise. Before the age of menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After the age of menopause, womens LDL levels tend to rise.
- Genetics. Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High cholesterol can run in families. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited form of high blood cholesterol.
- Medicines. Certain medicines, including steroids, some blood pressure medicines, and HIV/AIDS medicines, can raise your LDL level.
- Other medical conditions. Diseases such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS can cause a higher LDL level.
- Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high blood cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.
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Why Is Cholesterol Essential
Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. For example, cholesterol is used to build cell walls and produce some hormones.
Most of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver the rest comes from the food you eat.
Cholesterol is carried in the blood by lipoproteins. The main types of lipoproteins are high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein .
HDL cholesterol is known as ‘good’ cholesterol. This is because HDL helps to remove cholesterol from your arteries by carrying cholesterol back to your liver for disposal.
LDL cholesterol is known as ‘bad’ cholesterol. This is because LDL leaves cholesterol in your arteries.
The total cholesterol test is a blood test that measures both HDL and LDL cholesterol. Your doctor may test your cholesterol level to help find out your risk of heart disease or stroke. Other risk factors such as your age, family history, ethnicity high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, inactivity and smoking also need to be considered.
Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood that can also increase your risk of heart disease.
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.
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Why High Cholesterol Matters
High cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death in the U.S. High levels of LDL cholesterol can contribute to plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries, narrowing the arteries and restricting blood flow. If some of this plaque breaks off and gets stuck in a narrowed artery, it can block the artery and cut off blood supply to the heart or brain, resulting in heart attack or stroke.
How Is High Cholesterol Treated
The main goals in treating high cholesterol are to lower your LDL levels and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. To lower cholesterol, eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight. Some may also need to take cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Doctors determine your “goals” for lowering LDL based on the number of risk factors you have for heart disease.Ã Based on your risk, your doctor will determine the intensity of LDL reduction you need, and prescribe a medication accordingly.
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Coronary Artery Disease And Cholesterol
Acute coronary syndrome is a clinical event that occurs when the coronary blood flow is reduced by thrombus on the rupture plaque and the myocardial oxygen requirement cannot be met. Acute coronary syndrome is broad spectrum which contains STEMI, nonSTEMI, unstable angina pectoris, and sudden cardiac death. In many cases, the thrombosis process begins with plaque rupture. Up to 25% of cases of acute coronary syndromes can begin with plaque erosion. Lymphocyte and macrophage activation and the inflammatory response is accompanied by atherothrombosis. There are clinical differences according to coronary collateral reserve and obstruction severity. This process occurs after a plaque rupture and is called Type 1 MI.
Atherosclerotic plaques that play an essential role in acute coronary syndrome are divided according to their structural characteristics: Plaque structure is with thin fibrous cap, dense necrotic core, high inflammatory cell density, and low smooth muscle content it is called vulnerable plaque. Vulnerable plaque increases with hypertension, diabetes mellitus, elevated LDL, decreased HDL, and elevated ACE. Conversely, stabilized plaques with thick fibrous caps, poor necrotic cells, and dense extracellular matrix with low inflammatory content are observed in individuals with low risk factors .
Structural differences between vulnerable and stable plaques.
Myth: Eating Foods With A Lot Of Cholesterol Will Not Make My Cholesterol Levels Go Up
Fact: It can be complicated. We know that foods with a lot of cholesterol usually also have a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fats can make your cholesterol numbers higher, so its best to choose foods that are lower in saturated fats. Foods made from animals, including red meat, butter, and cheese, have a lot of saturated fats.
Instead, aim to eat foods with plenty of fiber, such as oatmeal and beans, and healthy unsaturated fats, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDCs nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
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Research Shows Accurately Measuring Ldl Cholesterol Is Important
Nearly one in four people found to have LDL cholesterol in the desirable level through an old calculation method actually may have needed more aggressive treatment, according to a study led by Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S. at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and published in 2013 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The newer way of calculating LDL cholesterol, which the same researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association later that year, provides a more individual and accurate assessment of risks.
Eat Foods Rich In Niacin
Niacin is a drug that is most widely used to increase HDL levels but there are also some foods that are a rich source of this substance and can be consumed to increase the levels of good cholesterol. According to a study published on the National Library of Medicine, niacin is thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering LDL cholesterol concentrations and raising those of HDL cholesterol. Foods like animal liver, tuna and salmon, mushrooms, potatoes, etc. are a good source of Niacin.
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Foods Labeled Low Cholesterol
When youre shopping and you see an item that says its low in cholesterol, you still need to check the nutrition label. If its high in saturated fat, it can raise your LDL cholesterol. Also check the serving size. It might be smaller than you think, and if you eat too much, youll get more cholesterol than you realized.
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Myth: I Dont Need Statins Or Other Medicines For My Cholesterol I Can Manage My Cholesterol With Diet And Exercise
Fact: Although many people can achieve good cholesterol levels by making healthy food choices and getting enough physical activity, some people may also need medicines called statins to lower their cholesterol levels. Guidelinesexternal icon also suggest that other medicines in addition to statins may be needed to help control cholesterol.2
People who may need statins or other medicines to manage cholesterol levels include the following:
- People with familial hypercholesterolemia or people with very high levels of bad cholesterol. FH is a genetic condition that causes very high LDL cholesterol levels beginning at a young age. If left untreated, cholesterol levels will continue to get worse. This greatly raises the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke at a young age.
- People with cardiovascular disease . People with CVD may already have narrowed arteries because of too much plaque. Medicines that lower cholesterol may help reduce the risk for heart attack or stroke.
- People with diabetes.Type 2 diabetes lowers HDL or good cholesterol levels and raises bad cholesterol levels. This combination raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Other groups of people may also need medicines to manage their cholesterol, including people who have a high risk for CVD. Always talk to your health care provider about the best ways to manage your cholesterol.
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How Can I Lower My Ldl Level
There are two main ways to lower your LDL cholesterol:
- Therapeutic lifestyle changes . TLC includes three parts:
- Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. Examples of eating plans that can lower your cholesterol include the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet and the DASH eating plan.
- Weight Management. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol.
- Physical Activity. Everyone should get regular physical activity .
- Drug Treatment. If lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available, including statins. The medicines work in different ways and can have different side effects. Talk to your health care provider about which one is right for you. While you are taking medicines to lower your cholesterol, you still should continue with the lifestyle changes.
Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Then the machine returns the rest of the blood back to the person.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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Ask The Doctor: Can Hdl Cholesterol Be Too High
Q.I know I need to keep my LDL cholesterol low and my HDL cholesterol high, but can HDL ever be too high?
A. For high-density lipoprotein levels, it does appear that the higher, the betterat least to a point. But you should also think about how you achieve that level. HDL is known as the good cholesterol particle because it functions to clear cholesterol from the arteries and deliver it back to the liver. Higher HDL levels are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. HDL levels lower than 40 milligrams per deciliter are considered worrisome, and levels higher than 60 mg/dL are considered excellent.
One recent study that examined high levels of HDL reported the benefits extended until 90 mg/dL in men, but then leveled off, which suggests no further benefit even with higher levels. A mans HDL level is predominantly determined by genetics, or inherited factors. Moderate-intensity exercise, three to four times a week, is an important mechanism to raise HDL with the bonus of other health benefits. Other methods to raise HDL are not so healthy. For instance, medications or supplements, like niacin, have shown disappointing results in controlled studies. Alcohol intake is known to increase HDL, but consuming more than two standard drinks a day can raise your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
William Kormos, MD
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You Eat A Lot Of Trans Fat
Sometimes called âpartially hydrogenatedâ fats or oils, you find them in fried foods, pastries, pizza dough, doughnuts, muffins, cookies, crackers, and many prepackaged foods. They raise your bad cholesterol levels and lower the good stuff. Check food labels to limit trans fats. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, and nuts.
High Ldl Cholesterol Diagnosis
A blood test can check your LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol levels. It also measures triglycerides, a type of fat that stores extra energy from your diet. High triglyceride levels can make you more likely to have heart problems.
Experts recommend testing every 4 to 6 years. Youâll probably need it more often if you have heart disease or diabetes, or if high cholesterol runs in your family.
Lower numbers are better when it comes to LDL cholesterol test results. The general guidelines for adults in the United States are:
- Less than 100 milligrams per deciliter : Optimal
- 100-129 mg/dL: Near or above optimal
- 130-159 mg/dL: Borderline high
- 160-189 mg/dL: High
- 190 mg/dL and above: Very high
If you have a condition like heart disease or diabetes, your doctor might recommend an LDL target of 70 mg/dL or below.
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Peripheral Arterial Diseases And Cholesterol
Peripheral arterial disease is a concept that involves diseases of arteries other than coronary arteries. It most commonly occurs as a result of atherosclerotic process. In addition to atherosclerosis, vasculitis, and injuries, trapping syndromes are also effective in the formation of peripheral arterial disease. Approximately one-third of the individuals with peripheral artery disease are accompanied by coronary artery disease. Peripheral artery disease should be considered as equivalent to coronary artery disease risk. Deaths are mostly of cardiac origin.
According to the REACH study, 3-year vascular-induced deaths were more common in patients with peripheral arterial disease than in those with coronary and carotid artery disease . The use of statin has reduced both symptoms and cardiovascular mortality in a variety of studies on peripheral arterial disease .
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.
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