What To Do When High Cholesterol Runs In Your Family
Because high cholesterol doesnt have any symptoms, its not something thats commonly on peoples radar. Even if it is, people often dont take it seriously until they have a heart attack or stroke. And while we tend to think of those events as happening to an older population, people under the age of 55 can also be affected, especially if they were born with high cholesterol.
This condition is called familial hypercholesterolemia . FH is an inherited disorder that makes it harder for your body to remove low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from your blood. The result? From childhood, cholesterol builds up along the walls of your arteries and veins, narrowing the passageways and drastically increasing your risk of;heart attack;or;stroke;at a very early age.
Can High Cholesterol Cause A Stroke
Yes, if you have high cholesterol, youre at risk of stroke due to the excess cholesterol circulating in your blood, according to the AHA.
LDL builds up in your arteries, where it slows or blocks the flow of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to your body, including your brain. As arteries narrow and stiffen, blood clots may form a blockage, which can cause a stroke if it travels to the brain.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and one of the main causes of disability, according to the American Stroke Association. But it can be mostly preventable; keeping your cholesterol levels down is one way to cut your risk.
How To Know If You Have High Cholesterol
In most cases high cholesterol does not show any symptoms. For some, high cholesterol can present with other complaints or other medical conditions that usually coexist with high cholesterol. When a person suffers from high cholesterol other problems like high blood pressure, chest pain, angina, stroke etc. can be experienced. Apart from that, you may also feel pain in legs while walking. This may happen because of circulatory problems where the arteries may get blocked and it becomes unable to send blood to the legs, causing pain while walking. The most precise way to know if you have high cholesterol is getting the blood tests done for cholesterol. It is advisable to get the cholesterol levels checked at regular intervals as a preventive measure and for those under treatment or with greater risks.
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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.
How Is Cholesterol Measured
Most people with high cholesterol feel perfectly well and often have no symptoms. The best way to find out if your cholesterol is high is to have a blood test .;
Visit your GP to determine whether you need to lower your cholesterol level and what action to take.;
GPs can also do a heart health check, that calculates your heart disease and stroke risk.
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Blood Tests For High Cholesterol
A cholesterol test will measure a range of fats in your blood sometimes called a lipid test. This will usually include measuring your:
- total cholesterol your HDL and LDL levels combined
- LDL cholesterol the type of cholesterol that can build up on the walls of your arteries if too high
- HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from your body so protects against heart disease
- triglycerides your body makes triglycerides when you take in more calories than you need
More advanced tests might measure your apolipoprotein levels these are proteins that transport fats like cholesterol in your blood. Evidence indicates that your apolipoprotein levels are better at predicting your risk of heart disease than your cholesterol levels.
To test your cholesterol levels, you can either collect a venous blood sample or do a home finger-prick blood test. ;
What Are The Risks Of High Cholesterol Levels
Theres a lot of evidence showing that high blood cholesterol levels are clearly linked to:
- high blood pressure
- chronic kidney disease
But keep in mind that over half of people who have a heart attack have normal LDL cholesterol levels. Heart disease is very complex and cholesterol is only part of the picture.
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Signs Of High Cholesterol Levels
There arent any signs of high cholesterol,so a blood test is the only way to check if you have high cholesterol levels. Raised cholesterol in people as young as 20 years can indicate an increased risk of heart disease later in life. Which is why national guidelines recommend measuring your cholesterol levels regularly from the age of 20.
Regular cholesterol tests are particularly important if you:
- are overweight or obese
- have high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or diabetes
- are on medication for high cholesterol and need to track your levels
Part 1 Of 3: Recognizing Signs And Symptoms
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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.;;;
How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally
In some cases, you may be able to lower your cholesterol levels without taking medications. For example, it may be enough to eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking tobacco products.
Some people also claim that certain herbal and nutritional supplements may help lower cholesterol levels. For instance, such claims have been made about:
- ground flax seed
However, the level of evidence supporting these claims varies. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasnt approved any of these products for treating high cholesterol. More research is needed to learn if they can help treat this condition.
Always talk to your doctor before taking any herbal or nutritional supplements. In some cases, they might interact with other medications youre taking. Learn more about natural remedies for high cholesterol.
Genetic risk factors for high cholesterol cant be controlled. However, lifestyle factors can be managed.
To lower your risk of developing high cholesterol:
- Eat a nutritious diet thats low in cholesterol and animal fats, and high in fiber.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
- Exercise regularly.
- Dont smoke.
You should also follow your doctors recommendations for routine cholesterol screening. If youre at risk of high cholesterol or coronary heart disease, they will likely encourage you to get your cholesterol levels tested on a regular basis. Find out how to get your cholesterol levels checked.
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Neck Pain And Headaches
Because high cholesterol leads to the blocking of arteries, theres a good chance that the blood flow to and from your head can be disturbed. The result is a sore neck and sudden headaches on an occasional basis, and you might even deal with some pain in your shoulders as well. A nagging headache in the back is a very good indication of excessive cholesterol levels according to doctors.
Getting Your Cholesterol Checked
Many people have never had their cholesterol checked, so they dont know whether they are at risk.
High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms.
The only way to know whether you have high cholesterol is to get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team can do a simple blood test, called a lipid profile, to measure your cholesterol levels.
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Does High Cholesterol Mean You Have Clogged Arteries
Its clear that having high cholesterol can be harmful for your cardiovascular system because it can increase your risk of having clogged arteries . Arteries are the most common of your blood vessels where the plague buildups due to excessive cholesterol in the blood occur. Excessive amounts of cholesterol that travel through the blood can affect the blood flow inside the arteries which then eventually can make your heart work harder in pumping the blood. And if your blood flow cannot run as well as it should, there will be many serious complications that occur such as hypertension , heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
What is the difference between HDL and LDL?
In general, cholesterol is classified by the type of particles that carry cholesterol in the blood called lipoprotein. So, lipoprotein itself is a package of protein-cholesterol. LDL and HDL are the most common kinds of cholesterol discussed when it comes to the issue of lowering the risk of heart disease.
While LDL stands for low density lipoprotein, HLD stands for high density lipoprotein. And as the name suggests, LDL is high in fatty deposits and cholesterol. On the other side, HDL is very low in cholesterol.
Overall, we can say that HDL is good cholesterol and LDL is bad cholesterol. How they work in affecting the blood flow inside arteries opposing each other. While high LDL increases the risk of creating more plague buildups on the arterys walls, HDL works in the opposite way !
How Is The Total Cholesterol Or Blood Cholesterol Test Done
A blood test is a routine test. A phlebotomist is the person whose job it is to draw blood. Blood is usually drawn from the vein in your arm. You will sit down and the phlebotomist will wrap a rubber band around your upper arm so that the vein in your elbow sticks out. Then they will use a needle to puncture the vein and remove blood. The blood is sent to the lab to be examined.
Youve probably been at health fairs where testing is offered. In that case, the person performing the test takes a drop of blood from your finger. The finger stick test uses a small blade to poke a hole in the tip of your finger to get the blood.
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Who Is Most At Risk For Fh
Familial hypercholesterolemia can affect anyone whose family carries the genetic mutation. However, its found more frequently in those who are of French Canadian, Ashkenazi Jewish, Lebanese or Afrikaner descent. The biggest problem with FH is that more than 90% of people who have it havent been diagnosed, which means you should pay careful attention to your family history,;
Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S.,;associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Advanced Lipid Disorders Center.
If people in your family have had heart attacks, needed stents or had bypass surgery earlier in life before age 55 in men and before 65 in women those are signals that theres something causing your family to be at higher risk for heart disease, he explains. It could be familial hypercholesterolemia.
Causes Of High Cholesterol
Eating too many foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats may increase your risk of developing high cholesterol. Other lifestyle factors can also contribute to high cholesterol. These factors include inactivity and smoking.
Your genetics can also affect your chances of developing high cholesterol. Genes are passed down from parents to children. Certain genes instruct your body on how to process cholesterol and fats. If your parents have high cholesterol, youre at higher risk of having it too.
In rare cases, high cholesterol is caused by familial hypercholesterolemia. This genetic disorder prevents your body from removing LDL. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, most adults with this condition have total cholesterol levels above 300 mg/dL and LDL levels above 200 mg/dL.
You may be at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol if you:
- are overweight or obese
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How Do I Know What My Ldl Level Is
A blood test can measure your cholesterol levels, including LDL. When and how often you should get this test depends on your age, risk factors, and family history. The general recommendations are:
For people who are age 19 or younger:
- The first test should be between ages 9 to 11
- Children should have the test again every 5 years
- Some children may have this test starting at age 2 if there is a family history of high blood cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke
For people who are age 20 or older:
- Younger adults should have the test every 5 years
- Men ages 45 to 65 and women ages 55 to 65 should have it every 1 to 2 years
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
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Tingles In Your Hands And Feet
A sort of tingling sensation in your hands and your feet definitely isnt uncommon if youre dealing with too high cholesterol levels. Because of blocked blood vessels, the peripheral nerves in your feet and hands are also affected as theyre not getting enough oxygen and blood flow. This usually doesnt result in pain, but can induce a rather noticeable tingling sensation instead.
How Much Cholesterol Should You Consume Per Day
Previously, doctors advised you not to consume more than 300 mg of cholesterol according to dietary guidelines per day. But in 2015, those recommendations changed. This change in policies is due to research showing that dietary cholesterol is not harmful and has no role in raising blood cholesterol levels.
Currently, there are no specific restrictions on the amount of cholesterol in food. But it is still important to pay attention to the food you eat to keep cholesterol levels within a healthy range. Doctors now recommend limiting saturated fats, trans fats, and extra sugars in your diet. Of course, you should also be careful about your cholesterol intake because foods high in cholesterol usually also have high saturated fats.
Cholesterol is a natural substance produced in your body and is also found in foods of animal origin. Your body needs cholesterol to help build cells and produce certain hormones, and it has the cholesterol it needs by using fats, sugars, and proteins in the liver and intestines. But this problem occurs when you consume a lot of saturated and trans fats. These types of fats cause your liver to produce a lot of bad cholesterol, which is in the form of deposits that clog arteries. For this reason, experts recommend that you avoid trans fats altogether and reduce your intake of saturated fats to ten percent or less of your total calories.
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