Take A Look At Your Lifestyle
You can make lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol numbers.
Your body naturally produces all the LDL cholesterol it needs. An unhealthy lifestyle makes your body produce more LDL cholesterol than it needs. This is the cause of high LDL cholesterol for most people.
Behaviors that can negatively affect your cholesterol levels include:
- Unhealthy diet
- Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
- Being overweight or obese
Not All Cholesterol Is Bad Cholesterol
There are different types of cholesterol, some good, some bad.
‘Bad cholesterol’ refers to Low-Density Lipoprotein which builds up in the arteries.
‘Good cholesterol’ refers to High-Density Lipoprotein which helps to remove LDL, transporting it back to the liver for disposal.
Total cholesterol refers to the total level of HDL and LDL. Doctors will often use the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL to determine the cholesterol:HDL ratio which is used to estimate overall cardiovascular risk. A higher level of good cholesterol and lower total cholesterol results in a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
And finally, while not technically a type of cholesterol, triglycerides are also considered to be unhealthy fats, high levels of which can also increase cardiovascular risk.
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.
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How Do I Know If My Cholesterol Is Too High
There are no symptoms that can warn you when your cholesterol level is high. You can have high cholesterol and never know it. A lipid panel blood test is the only way to determine whether or not you have high cholesterol.
It is generally recommended that men and women over 20 years of age should have their cholesterol levels checked every 5 years. However, if your test results are outside of the recommended range, you should check them more often. Other factors related to your health, your family medical history and your lifestyle will also affect how often you should have your cholesterol levels checked. As always, talk to your doctor about the frequency that is best for you.
What Foods Cause High Cholesterol
Eating foods high in saturated fats and trans fats can raise your LDL and total cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are found in red meats, full-fat dairy products, and many processed foods. Trans fats are sometimes listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Trans fats are so unhealthy that the Food and Drug Administration has actually banned them as of January 1, 2021. Foods that can contribute to high cholesterol include:
Fatty beef, lamb, or pork
Poultry with skin
Butter, cheese, and other dairy products made with whole milk
Lard and shortening
A diet that helps you lower your cholesterol can include:
Plenty of vegetables and fruits
Tree nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans
Fatty fish like salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines
High-fiber foods like oatmeal and oat bran
Low-fat dairy foods
Some foods like margarine, yogurt, and orange juice can have sterols or stanols added to them. These plant-based substances help your body block the absorption of cholesterol from your diet and lower LDL levels.
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Normal Cholesterol Levels By Age
The cholesterol levels that are healthiest for you can differ . Here’s what’s considered normal or high cholesterol for men and women over the age of 20:;
The American Heart Association recommends that adults have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. People at risk for heart disease should have their cholesterol levels checked more frequently.
If you’re under the age of 20, normal or high cholesterol levels look a bit different:;
Children between the ages of 9 and 11 should have their cholesterol checked once before puberty, according to the CDC, and then once again between the ages of 17 and 21. More screenings may be necessary for children and adolescents with diabetes or obesity, as they can be at a higher risk.;;
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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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.
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 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.
Unexpected Signs You Have High Cholesterol
Your eyes, legs toenails and skin may indicate signs of high cholesterol. If you dont treat high cholesterol it leads to plaque build up in your artery walls, known as atherosclerosis, and limits blood flow. If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol your body has so much bad cholesterol that it doesnt even know what to do with it.
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Cholesterol Buildup In Your Eyes
When your body has too much cholesterol it can show up anywhere with arteries passing through. Your eyes are full of tiny blood vessels where high cholesterol can show up. You may notice a fatty skin deposit in your cornea or yellow fat deposits around your eyelids. Xanthomas are not reserved to your eyes, they may also appear on your elbows, knees or ankles, as well as other parts of your skin.;
What Are Early Signs Of Fh
When you have FH, early detection of high cholesterol levels is key to getting the treatment that can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to family history of early cardiovascular problems, you may also notice lumps forming under your skin.
These fatty deposits are called xanthomas, and are particularly noticeable around tendons in the hands, knees, Achilles tendons and elbows, and under the skin around your eyes. Sometimes an ophthalmologist may spot signs of cholesterol deposits in your eyes as well.
Whether or not you have obvious signs of high cholesterol, you should get checked if heart disease runs in your family. Talk to your family doctor about your concerns; a simple blood test is all it takes to see if your cholesterol levels are in the healthy range. A high cholesterol level at a young age is a particular red flag that you may have FH. If your doctor suspects you have the condition, you can undergo genetic testing to confirm the diagnosis.
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The Appearance Of Cholesterol Bubbles On The Skin
Sometimes, the excessive amount of cholesterol may manifest on the outside of your body as well. A yellowish sort of rash can appear on the skin, which is filled with cholesterol. Theyre called xanthomas and are usually found on the Achilles heel and the hand, although theyre sometimes located on the tendons of your foot, knee or elbow too.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
There are two main ways to lower your cholesterol:
- Heart-healthy lifestyle changes, which include:
- Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. Examples 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 .
- Managing stress. Research has shown that chronic stress can sometimes raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol.
- Quitting smoking.Quitting smoking can raise your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries, having more HDL can help to lower your LDL cholesterol.
- 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 medicines 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 should continue with the lifestyle changes.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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What Is A Good Cholesterol Level
To understand cholesterol levels, it is first helpful to understand how cholesterol is measured. Cholesterol is not floating around in your bloodstream by itself. If it was, it would just be globs of fat that would not be able to use. For cholesterol to be useful, it attaches to proteins before it enters the blood. These combinations of cholesterol and proteins are called lipoproteins. There are several types of lipoproteins, but the two that receive the most attention are:
What Should My Cholesterol Levels Be
Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.
As a general guide, total cholesterol levels should be:
- 5mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 4mmol/L or less for those at high risk
As a general guide, LDL levels should be:
- 3mmol/L or less for healthy adults
- 2mmol/L or less for those at high risk
An ideal level of HDL is above 1mmol/L. A lower level of HDL can increase your risk of heart disease.
Your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL may also be calculated. This is your total cholesterol level divided by your HDL level. Generally, this ratio should be below four, as a higher ratio increases your risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is only one risk factor. The level at which specific treatment is required will depend on whether other risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure, are also present.
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How Is Xanthoma Diagnosed
Your doctor or dermatologist can typically diagnose xanthoma. They may be able to make a diagnosis simply by examining your skin. A skin biopsy can confirm the presence of a fatty deposit beneath the skin.
During this procedure, your doctor may remove a small sample of tissue from the growth and send it to a laboratory for analysis. Your doctor will follow up with you to discuss the results.
They may also order blood tests to check blood lipid levels, assess liver function, and rule out diabetes.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol Naturally
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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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.
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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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:
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.
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.
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What Is High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy type of fat produced by the liver that is essential to the digestion of food and also used in the production of certain hormones and vitamin D. However, when certain cholesterol levels are high, they can adversely affect blood circulation and contribute to the onset of heart disease.
There are two main types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: Often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, this is the type of cholesterol that can accumulate on the walls of arteries, causing plaques that narrow and harden blood vessels and increase blood pressure.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol: Often referred to as “good” cholesterol, this is the type that transports cholesterol from the rest of your body to the liver so that it can be removed from the body.
In the broadest sense, high cholesterol can be described as having too much LDL cholesterol and not enough HDL cholesterol.
There is another form of LDL, called very low-density cholesterol, that is responsible for transporting triglycerides through the body. Triglycerides are another type of lipid that, when elevated, can increase the risk of heart disease.
What Are The Types Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol in the blood doesn’t move through the body on its own. It combines with proteins to travel through the bloodstream. Cholesterol and protein traveling together are called lipoproteins;.
Low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein are the lipoproteines that most of us have heard about.
Low-density lipoproteins, or “bad cholesterol,” can build up on the walls of the arteries. Cholesterol and other substances in the blood form plaque;. Plaque buildup can make blood vessels become stiffer, narrower, or blocked. Plaque makes it easier for blood clots to form. A blood clot can block a narrowed artery and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Atherosclerosis , or hardening of the arteries, also leads to decreased blood flow to vital organs, including the brain, intestines, and kidneys.
High-density lipoproteins, or “good cholesterol,” carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver. In the liver, cholesterol is broken down and removed from the body.
High levels of LDL and low levels of HDL increase a person’s risk of heart disease.;
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