Ways To Prevent High Cholesterol
You can prevent high cholesterol the same way you can help lower itby living a healthy lifestyle focused on a heart-healthy diet and exercise. Other strategies that can help prevent high cholesterol include:
- Quitting smoking
- Getting enough good quality sleep
- Limit alcohol intake
However, if you have familial hypercholesterolemia, you may not be able to prevent it. You can work with your doctor to detect it early and manage it to prevent complications.
Heredity Can Play A Role
Some people inherit genes from their mother, father or even grandparents that cause them to have too much cholesterol. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia . The severity of FH is related to the duration and degree of LDL cholesterol in the blood. FH is dangerous because it can cause premature atherosclerotic heart disease.
If you have a family history of FH or problems related to high cholesterol, get your levels checked.
High Cholesterol In The United States
- In 20152018, nearly 12% of adults age 20 and older had total cholesterol higher than 240 mg/dL, and about 17% had high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels less than 40 mg/dL.1
- Slightly more than half of U.S. adults who could benefit from cholesterol medicine are currently taking it.2
- Nearly 94 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL. Twenty-eight million adults in the United States have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.1
- 7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol.3
- High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people dont know that their cholesterol is too high. A simple blood test can check cholesterol levels.
- Having high blood cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death, and for stroke, the fifth leading cause of death.
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Signs And Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol on its own doesn’t usually cause symptoms. People often don’t realize they have high cholesterol until they get tested. However, the complications that high cholesterol causes do. As arteries and other blood vessels narrow and blood flow is slowed or stopped, every part of your body can be affected.
Uncontrolled high cholesterol can lead to the following complications:
- Atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fatty deposits in your blood vessels
- Carotid artery disease, which is narrowing of the blood vessels in the neck that carry blood from the heart to the brain
- Coronary heart disease, which is damage or disease in the heart’s major blood vessels
- Heart attack
- Peripheral artery disease, which is narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs
Symptoms of these complications can include:
- Fatty deposits of cholesterol visible from under the skin called xanthelasmas
Cholesterol And Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is when a man canât achieve or maintain an erection during sex. Over the long term, high cholesterol seems to trigger a narrowing of the smaller blood vessels of the penis when they should be stretching to allow more blood for an erection . In addition, when you have too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in arteries and then join with other substances to form plaque that hardens and narrows further blood vessels . The result can be less blood flow to both the heart and the penis, which can lead to erectile dysfunction.
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Lowering Cholesterol Through Diet
To help you achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet.
For example, they may advise you to:
- limit your intake of foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats
- choose lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, and legumes
- eat a wide variety of high fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- opt for baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, and roasted foods instead of fried foods
- avoid fast food and sugary, pre-packaged options when possible
Foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, or trans fats include:
- red meat, organ meats, egg yolks, and high fat dairy products
- processed foods made with cocoa butter or palm oil
- deep-fried foods, such as potato chips, onion rings, and fried chicken
- certain baked goods, such as some cookies and muffins
Eating fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids may also help lower your LDL levels. For example, salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich sources of omega-3s. Walnuts, almonds, ground flaxseeds, and avocados also contain omega-3s.
Understanding The Highs And Lows Of Cholesterol
You know that too much is dangerous. But what is cholesterol, anyway? Where does it come from? And is it all bad?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell in the body. Its either made by the body or absorbed from food. Your body needs cholesterol to make important steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and vitamin D. Its also used to make bile acids in the liver these absorb fat during digestion.
So some cholesterol is necessary but bad cholesterol is something you can do without. Excess bad cholesterol in the bloodstream can deposit into the bodys arteries. These deposits are called plaques and result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is the major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular problems.
Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which includes several components:
- LDL cholesterol: LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the bad cholesterol, which directly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. Very low density lipoprotein, or VLDL cholesterol, is another type, which is a precursor to LDL.
- Total cholesterol is VLDL cholesterol plus LDL cholesterol plus HDL cholesterol.
- HDL cholesterol: HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. Experts think at optimal levels it might help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol.
And guess what? This buildup can start as early as your 20s.
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Common Causes Of High Cholesterol And What To Do About Them
High cholesterol, a well-known health condition among Americans, is on the decline but remains a threat. The percentage of U.S. adults suffering from high cholesterol dropped by an impressive 6% between 2000 and 2016, from 18.3% down to just 12%. This is a step in a positive direction, but higher-than-recommended cholesterol is still a serious condition and prevention depends on a thorough understanding of its causes. High cholesterol is a key risk factor for heart disease and remains the leading cause of death in the United States.
High cholesterol is largely governed by lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and smoking and that means its both treatable and preventable. The following list will explore the five most common causes of high cholesterol and the best ways to achieve healthy levels.
How Can I Raise My Hdl Level
If your HDL level is too low, lifestyle changes may help. These changes may also help prevent other diseases, and make you feel better overall:
- Eat a healthy diet. To raise your HDL level, you need to eat good fats instead of bad fats. This means limiting saturated fats, which include full-fat milk and cheese, high-fat meats like sausage and bacon, and foods made with butter, lard, and shortening. You should also avoid trans fats, which may be in some margarines, fried foods, and processed foods like baked goods. Instead, eat unsaturated fats, which are found in avocado, vegetable oils like olive oil, and nuts. Limit carbohydrates, especially sugar. Also try to eat more foods naturally high in fiber, such as oatmeal and beans.
- Stay at a healthy weight. You can boost your HDL level by losing weight, especially if you have lots of fat around your waist.
- Exercise. Getting regular exercise can raise your HDL level, as well as lower your LDL. You should try to do 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise on most, if not all, days.
- Avoid cigarettes.Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can lower your HDL level. If you are a smoker, ask your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit. You should also try to avoid secondhand smoke.
- Limit alcohol. Moderate alcohol may lower your HDL level, although more studies are needed to confirm that. What we do know is that too much alcohol can make you gain weight, and that lowers your HDL level.
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How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
You cant tell if you have high cholesterol without having it checked. A simple blood test will reveal your cholesterol level.
Men 35 years of age and older and women 45 years of age and older should have their cholesterol checked. Men and women 20 years of age and older who have risk factors for heart disease should have their cholesterol checked. Teens may need to be checked if they are taking certain medicines or have a strong family history of high cholesterol. Ask your doctor how often you should have your cholesterol checked.
Risk factors for heart disease include:
- Cigarette smoking.
- Having an immediate family member who has had heart disease.
- Being overweight or obese.
Bloating And Digestive Issues
The main reason for increased cholesterol levels is overeating fatty and fried food affects our liver and produces bad cholesterol in the body. If you are facing high cholesterol, then you may feel bloated even after eating significantly less.
Your stomach makes you feel heaviness and disinterest in appetite. The excess flow of lipid substance directly affects the metabolism and triggers the digestive system in your body, and you feel bloating and heaviness.
If you are constantly feeling these issues, then you must go for a lipid profile test.
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How Do You Know If You Have High Cholesterol
How do you know if you have high cholesterol? Since high cholesterol has no symptoms, the only way to tell is through a blood test looking at your lipid levels. If you think your cholesterol levels are higher than they should be, dont wait to contact your doctor.
The buildup of plaque caused by high cholesterol can put you at risk for much more serious diseases like cardiovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, coronary artery disease , or stroke. As frightening as that can sound, dont panic. With the help of your doctor, you can improve your cholesterol levels through medication and/or lifestyle changes.
In this article, we will teach you how to tell if you have high cholesterol, walk you through common risk factors, and advise you on when to seek emergency treatment.
When Should You Contact Your Healthcare Provider About Your Cholesterol Levels
In truth, your healthcare provider will probably talk to you about your numbers first. As always, contact your provider if you have any new or worsening pain or other uncomfortable feelings. Make sure you know what medications you take and what they are expected to do. Call the provider if you have a reaction to the medicine.
Before you go to the office, and after you have had a cholesterol test, it helps to have a list of questions prepared about your test results and any proposed treatment.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
When considering cholesterol numbers, its important to remember that you really have the ability to make those numbers go in your favor. What you choose to eat, how much you are able to move and how you deal with lifes ups and downs are things that you can influence.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/31/2020.
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Sneaky Causes Of High Cholesterol
If youre doing all you can to lower your cholesterol, but your numbers are still high, know that youre not alone. Here are some of the most common reasons.
1. You have a genetic risk of high cholesterol. If youre someone who has a relatively healthy lifestyle and your cholesterol levels are high if you have an LDL greater than 160 you probably have some genetic component that leads to high cholesterol, says Raj Khandwalla, MD, cardiologist and director of digital therapeutics at Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited condition that leads to cholesterol accumulating in the bloodstream, according to the FH Foundation.
Once you receive a diagnosis of high cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe a statin, a type of medication that blocks a substance your body uses to make cholesterol. Statins help lower LDL cholesterol, which reduces the risk of stroke or death from a heart attack, Dr. Khandwalla says.
2. Youre following a trendy diet. Khandwalla emphasizes that people who have high cholesterol should avoid the keto diet, a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet touted for weight loss. The most effective diets to lower cholesterol are a plant-based diet or vegan diet in which you decrease your dietary intake of cholesterol, says Khandwalla. If you still want to include meat in your diet, stick to lean proteins, such as chicken, turkey, and fish.
What Has The Biggest Impact On Ldl Cholesterol
Contrary to the long-held belief that dietary cholesterol itself is a major cause of high LDL, evidence suggests a weaker link. It’s still a good idea to steer clear of dietary cholesterol, but that intake isn’t the biggest influence. The current understanding is that the specific mix of carbohydrates and fats in your diet is the biggest factor in determining your LDL levels.
How To Prevent High Cholesterol
If you have any of the health conditions listed above, you’re at risk for developing high cholesterol but you can take steps to prevent it. Getting regular exercise and improving your diet by reducing your intake of foods high in saturated fat can go a long way to keep cholesterol levels down and protect your heart health.
Discuss your risk of high cholesterol with your doctor. Monitoring your cholesterol levels with a simple blood test is important for getting to a healthy goal and lowering your risk of heart attack. Your doctor may recommend that you take a cholesterol-lowering medication, if needed, to get to the cholesterol level that’s best for you to keep your risk of heart disease as low as possible.
How Fat Moves From Food To The Bloodstream
Fat and cholesterol cant dissolve in water or blood. Instead, the body packages fat and cholesterol into tiny, protein-covered particles called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins can transport a lot of fat they mix easily with blood and flow with it. Some of these particles are big and fluffy, while others are small and dense. The most important ones are low-density lipoproteins , high-density lipoproteins , and triglycerides.
- Low Density lipoproteins
Low-density lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. Cells latch onto these particles and extract fat and cholesterol from them. When there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, these particles can form deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries and other arteries throughout the body. Such deposits, called plaque, can narrow arteries and limit blood flow. When plaque breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Because of this, LDL cholesterol is often referred to as bad, or harmful, cholesterol.
- High-density lipoproteins
High-density lipoproteins scavenge cholesterol from the bloodstream, from LDL, and from artery walls and ferry it back to the liver for disposal. Think of HDL as the garbage trucks of the bloodstream. HDL cholesterol is often referred to as good, or protective, cholesterol.
In general, the lower your LDL and the higher your HDL, the better your chances of preventing heart disease and other chronic conditions.
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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 Are The Possible Causes Of High Cholesterol
Your cholesterol levels are affected by various factors, including your lifestyle, family history, other health issues, and heredity. All of these factors might boost the causes of high cholesterol.
Following are the possible factors that raise your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.
Cigarette smoking affects the walls of your blood vessels, making them more prone to fatty deposits. Smoking can also affect your HDL cholesterol levels.
Having a BMI of 30 or above puts you at risk of having high cholesterol. A person with a heavyweight is at a higher risk of developing a high cholesterol level.
Consuming many unhealthy meals might lead to higher cholesterol levels. Eating too much-saturated fat or trans fats might result in harmful cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are present in fatty cuts of meat and full-fat dairy products. Trans fats are one of the most causes of high cholesterol, typically found in packaged snacks or desserts.
- Unhealthy lifestyle
Lack of exercise and excessive alcohol use might contribute to high cholesterol problems.
genetics can also play a role. Sometimes your genetic composition prevents cells from efficiently eliminating LDL cholesterol from your blood, or it causes your liver to create too much cholesterol. You are also more likely to have high cholesterol if you have a family history.
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