What’s Cholesterol Doing In There
Although cholesterol tends to get a bad rap, it also performs several important functions in the body:
- It plays a role in forming and maintaining cell membranes and structures. Cholesterol can insert between fat molecules making up the cell, making the membrane more fluid. Cells also need cholesterol to help them adjust to changes in temperature.
- Cholesterol is essential for making a number of critical hormones, including the stress hormone cortisol. Cholesterol is also used to make the sex hormones testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen.
- The liver also uses cholesterol to make bile, a fluid that plays a vital role in the processing and digestion of fats.
- Cholesterol is used by nerve cells for insulation.
- Your body also needs cholesterol to make vitamin D. In the presence of sunlight, cholesterol is converted into vitamin D.
What Happens To Cholesterol In The Body
The body carries cholesterol and other types of fat cells, called triglycerides, in the bloodstream.
Triglycerides are fat storage molecules that circulate around the body and serve as a source of energy. Both triglycerides and cholesterol are insoluble in water. Therefore, they need protein molecules called lipoproteins to transport them around the body in the blood.
The main types of lipoproteins that the body uses to transport lipids in the body are:
- Chylomicrons: These large particles transport dietary triglycerides and cholesterol from the intestine to the liver and other body tissues.
- Very low-density lipoproteins : The liver produces these particles. Muscle and adipose tissues metabolize VLDL into low-density lipoproteins .
- LDL: Small dense LDL particles carry most of the cholesterol in the bodys circulation to the tissues. LDL enters the arteries, and free radicals can oxidize it, causing atherosclerosis.
- High-density lipoproteins : These particles play an important role in transporting cholesterol back to the liver, which helps prevent it from being deposited in arteries. HDL has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can inhibit atherosclerosis.
Doctors measure these lipoprotein levels to help them look at a persons overall risk of heart disease and stroke.
High cholesterol usually causes no symptoms, and the only way that someone can tell if their levels are healthy is to take a blood test.
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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Safe Blood Cholesterol Levels
Health authorities recommend that cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre if there are no other risk factors present. If there are other cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure or pre-existing cardiovascular disease, then the aim for the LDL levels would be less than 2 mmol/l. Approximately half of all adult Australians have a blood cholesterol level above 5 mmol/l. This makes high blood cholesterol a major health concern in Australia.
Why Is Hdl Good
HDL helps keep your cardiovascular system healthy. It actually aids in the removal of LDL from the arteries.
It carries the bad cholesterol back to the liver, where its broken down and eliminated from the body.
High levels of HDL have also been shown to protect against stroke and heart attack, while low HDL has been shown to increase those risks.
According to the National Institutes of Health , HDL levels of 60 mg/dL and higher are considered protective, while those under 40 mg/dL are a risk factor for heart disease.
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Plant Sterols Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
Plant sterols are found naturally in plant foods including sunflower and canola seeds, vegetable oils and in nuts, legumes, cereals, fruit and vegetables. Some margarine and milks have concentrated plant sterols added to them. Margarines enriched with plant sterolslower LDL cholesterol in most people if the correct amount is eaten .
What Complications Are Possible If You Dont Treat High Cholesterol Levels In Your Blood
The main reason to treat high cholesterol is to prevent or treat coronary heart disease , also called coronary artery disease or CAD. CHD happens when heart is not able to get enough oxygen-rich blood to function well and kills more people in the U.S. than any other cause of death. CHD usually refers to the large arteries, but there is also a condition called coronary microvascular disease that affects the small vessels and causes damage.
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How Can You Prevent High Cholesterol Levels And Coronary Heart Disease
Prevention methods are very much the same as treatment methods. First, dont smoke. If you do smoke, make plans to quit now. Find ways to add physical activity to each of your days. Take steps to keep your weight in a healthy range. Eat well. Consider following the Mediterranean diet. It is the only diet proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. Take care of any other medical conditions you might have by following your healthcare providers advice and instructions. Learn to really relax and calm down.
How Is High Cholesterol Treated
There are several ways to lower high blood cholesterol , including lifestyle changes or medication, or both. Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine which therapy is best for you.
Healthcare providers like to start with the least invasive treatments when possible, such as lifestyle changes. Youll be advised to:
- Avoid tobacco. If you do smoke, quit. Smoking is bad for you in many ways, and reducing your level of good cholesterol is one of them.
- Change the way you eat. Limit the number of trans fats and saturated fat. Eat heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and whole grains. Limit red meat, sugary products and dairy products made with whole milk.
- Get more exercise. Try to get about 150 minutes of physical activity every week, or about 30 minutes per day for most days of the week.
- Keep a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider about safe ways to do this. Youll see results even before you reach your ideal weight. Losing even 10% of your body weight makes a difference in your cholesterol levels.
- Reduce the effect of negative emotions. Learn healthy ways to deal with anger, stress or other negative emotions.
- Control blood sugar and blood pressure. Make sure you follow your healthcare providers instructions for blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes, and for keeping blood pressure in the healthy range.
- Atorvastatin .
- Simvastatin .
- Pitavastatin .
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What Are The Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol itself does not cause any symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol levels are too high. Therefore, it is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are. Lowering cholesterol levels that are too high lessens the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease, even if you already have it.
The Utilization Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is transported in the plasma predominantly as cholesteryl esters associated with lipoproteins. Dietary cholesterol is transported from the small intestine to the liver within chylomicrons. Cholesterol synthesized by the liver, as well as any dietary cholesterol in the liver that exceeds hepatic needs, is transported in the serum within LDL. The liver synthesizes VLDL and these are converted to LDL through the action of endothelial cell-associated lipoprotein lipase. Cholesterol found in plasma membranes can be extracted by HDL and esterified by the HDL-associated enzyme lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase, LCAT. The cholesterol acquired from peripheral tissues by HDL can then be transferred to VLDL and LDL via the action of cholesteryl ester transfer protein which is associated with HDL. Reverse cholesterol transport allows peripheral cholesterol to be returned to the liver in LDL. Ultimately, cholesterol is excreted in the bile as free cholesterol or as bile salts following conversion to bile acids in the liver.
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What Numbers Should I Look For
Some recommend that everyone over age 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every 5 years. The test that is performed is a blood test called a lipoprotein profile. That includes:
- Total cholesterol level
What Affects Cholesterol Levels?
A variety of factors can affect your cholesterol levels. They include:
Cholesterol Movement Between Membranes
Cholesterol can move between membranes by vesicular transport , by collision between two membrane surfaces, by cholesterol binding proteins, and through an intervening aqueous phase, though the latter is a minor mechanism because of the very low solubility of cholesterol in water. In the laboratory, cholesterol can also be moved in and out of membranes by incubation of the membranes with lipid vesicles, in which case some of the cholesterol is transferred to the vesicle membranes. Membranes can also be depleted of cholesterol by incubation with a synthetic polymer, methyl-Î²-cyclodextrin.
Studies on the kinetics of the movement of cholesterol from one membrane to another have revealed the mechanism of that movement. Several studies with small phosphatidylcholine vesicles indicated cholesterol can move between vesicles by transfer through the aqueous phase.14 Perhaps most dramatic was the observation that cholesterol could transfer between two vesicle populations separated by a membrane impermeable to the vesicles.15 The latter transfer was very slow. Transfer can be enhanced significantly by collision of donor and acceptor membranes.
It is interesting that cholesterol transfers through the aqueous phase even though the hydrophobic effect determines that the solubility of cholesterol in water is vanishingly small. Not surprisingly then agents that increase the critical micelle concentration apparently enhanced the exchange rates.16
Maryse Guerin, in, 2017
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Only About 20% Of The Cholesterol In Your Bloodstream Comes From The Food You Eat Your Body Makes The Rest
Cholesterol has a bad reputation, thanks to its well-known role in promoting heart disease. Excess cholesterol in the bloodstream is a key contributor to artery-clogging plaque, which can accumulate and set the stage for a heart attack. However, the role of cholesterol in your body is not all negative.
To fully explain cholesterol, you need to realize that it’s also vital to your health and well-being. Although we measure cholesterol production in the blood, it’s found in every cell in the body. The Harvard Special Health Report Managing Your Cholesterol explains cholesterol as a waxy, whitish-yellow fat and a crucial building block in cell membranes. Cholesterol also is needed to make vitamin D, hormones , and fat-dissolving bile acids. In fact, cholesterol production is so important that your liver and intestines make about 80% of the cholesterol you need to stay healthy. Only about 20% comes from the foods you eat.
If you eat only 200 to 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day , your liver will produce an additional 800 milligrams per day from raw materials such as fat, sugars, and proteins.
Since cholesterol is a fat, it can’t travel alone in the bloodstream. It would end up as useless globs . To get around this problem, the body packages cholesterol and other lipids into minuscule protein-covered particles that mix easily with blood. These tiny particles, called lipoproteins , move cholesterol and other fats throughout the body.
Myth: I Would Be Able To Feel It If I Had High Cholesterol
Fact: High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may not know you have unhealthy cholesterol levels until it is too latewhen you have a heart attack or stroke. Thats why its so important to get your cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.1,2 Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.
Occasionally, some people develop yellowish growths on their skin called xanthomas, which are cholesterol-rich deposits. People with xanthomas may have high cholesterol levels.
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Measuring Ldl Cholesterol Levels
Given the severity of what it can lead to, its little wonder that screening LDL levels is an important and essential part of health evaluation. This is measured using a blood test called a lipoprotein profile. Heres a breakdown of how the assessment works:
- Fasting: You may have to fast for 9 to 12 hours before your appointment for an accurate LDL level. This means holding back from eating, having certain beverages, or taking some medications.
- Sampling: The lipoprotein test, like other blood tests, only requires a small sample of blood. Its usually drawn from a vein in the arm, and all youll feel is a pinprick.
- Multiple Measures: The amounts of four lipoproteins are measured: LDL, HDL, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels. Other lipoproteins such as very low-density lipoprotein may be measured as well.
Recommendations as to how often you should have your cholesterol levels checked vary based on your age and health status. Typically, adults over the age of 20 should be screened once every five years, with the first test administered when children are 9 to 11. Men aged 45 to 65, and women 55 to 65 should be screened every one to two years.
However, more frequent assessment is needed for those who have certain risk-factors for heart disease, including:
Notably, in men over 40, LDL levels will be part of an equation used to determine risk of developing stroke or heart attack within 10 years.
Where Is Cholesterol Made
Some of our cholesterol comes from the food we eat, but most is made in the liver in a complex 37-step process.
The lipoproteins are then released into the blood and carried around the body to wherever they’re needed.
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Cholesterol Travels In Lipoproteins
Cholesterol level is measured in mg/dL . That is,the milligrams of cholesterol in one deciliter, or one-tenth of a liter, of yourblood. Your risk is normal if your total cholesterol divided by your HDL is less than 5.
Whether it comes from the diet or is made by the liver, cholesterol travels through the bloodstream to whereit is needed. Because it is a lipid, like oil, cholesterol doesn’t mix well with our watery blood. So cholesterolmust be carried through the blood stream by special proteins. Cholesteroltraveling with a protein is called a lipoprotein. Lipoproteins also transport fats.
Lipoproteins exist in different forms, including LDLs and HDLs. LDLs deliver cholesterol to cells, whereas HDLs removeexcess cholesterol from the blood and bring it to the liver to be excreted. So HDLsare good to have around. A healthy person will have more HDLs thanLDLs .
What Causes High Ldl Cholesterol
High LDL is when there are unhealthy elevated levels of this cholesterol in your blood. A range of factors cause these to rise, including:
- Diet: Eating an excess of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, as in fatty cuts of meat, dairy products, bacon, cakes, sausages, and others, raises levels.
- Weight status: Being overweight or obese causes increases in LDL levels, making weight management an integral part of managing this condition.
- Physical activity: Those that don’t get enough exercise or are too sedentary are at risk of high LDL due to weight gain or excessive weight status.
- Genetics: High LDL can be an inherited condition and runs in families. If you know of relatives with high cholesterol, be aware that you may be at higher risk.
- Medications: A side-effect of some classes of pharmaceutical drugs is high LDL. This can happen with beta-blockers, diuretics, some types of birth control, antivirals, and antiseizure drugs , among others.
- Medical conditions: Human immunodeficiency virus , chronic kidney disease, and diabetes are among the conditions that lead to spikes in LDL.
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Before Taking This Medicine
You should not take rosuvastatin if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
liver disease or
if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Do not take rosuvastatin if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are taking rosuvastatin. Stop taking rosuvastatin and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
Do not breastfeed while you are taking rosuvastatin.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
a habit of drinking more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day
if you are of Asian descent or
if you are 65 or older.
Rosuvastatin can cause the breakdown of muscle tissue, which can lead to kidney failure. This happens more often in women, in older adults, or people who have kidney disease or poorly controlled hypothyroidism .
People of Asian descent may absorb rosuvastatin at a higher rate than other people. Make sure your doctor knows if you are Asian. You may need a lower than normal starting dose.
What Can Raise My Risk Of High Cholesterol
A variety of things can raise your risk for high cholesterol:
- Age. Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older. Even though it is less common, younger people, including children and teens, can also have high cholesterol.
- Heredity. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
- Weight. Being overweight or having obesity raises your cholesterol level.
- Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.
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