What Is Dangerously High Cholesterol
You may be diagnosed with borderline-high or high cholesterol if your blood test results show:
- Total cholesterol higher than 200 milligrams per deciliter
- LDL cholesterol higher than 100 mg/dL
- Triglycerides over 150 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol lower than 40 mg/dL
But what do these numbers really mean for your health?
While having high cholesterol isnt something youll notice day to day, it does mean youre at risk for or may already have heart disease, the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States.
Want to know more? Here are answers to 11 frequently asked questions about high cholesterol.
Recent Guidelines For Normal Cholesterol Levels
Your body needs some cholesterol to function properly, including some LDL. But if your LDL levels are too high, it can raise your risk of serious health problems.
In 2013, the American College of Cardiologists and the American Heart Association developed new guidelines for the treatment of high cholesterol.
Before this change, doctors would manage cholesterol based on numbers in a cholesterol levels chart. Your doctor would measure your total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels. They would then decide whether to prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication based on how your numbers compared to the numbers in the chart.
Under the new guidelines, in addition to your cholesterol levels, treatment recommendations consider other risk factors for heart disease. These risk factors include diabetes and the estimated 10-year risk for a cardiac event such as a heart attack or stroke. So what your normal cholesterol levels are depends on whether you have other risk factors for heart disease.
These new guidelines recommend that if you dont have risk factors for heart disease, your doctor should prescribe treatment if your LDL is greater than 189 mg/dL. To find out what your personal cholesterol recommendations are, talk to your doctor.
With the changes mentioned above in the treatment guidelines for high cholesterol, cholesterol charts are no longer considered the best way for doctors to gauge the management of cholesterol levels in adults.
Can High Cholesterol Make Me Tired
No, high cholesterol doesnt usually cause fatigue, but it can lead to heart diseases, such as coronary artery disease, that do. With this heart condition, excess LDL builds up as plaque in your hearts small arteries, causing them to narrow and stiffen. This reduces blood flow, which can make you feel tired or short of breath and cause chest pain, notes the NHLBI.
If youre taking a statin to treat high cholesterol, possible side effects could come with fatigue, such as memory loss, forgetfulness, and confusion, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However these are very rare. Mayo Clinic describes this as mental fuzziness. Be sure to discuss any similar symptoms with your doctor.
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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.
Hdl Cholesterol Or Good Cholesterol
High-density lipoprotein is sometimes called good cholesterol. It helps return LDL cholesterol to your liver to be removed from your body. This helps prevent cholesterol plaque from building up in your arteries.
When you have healthy levels of HDL cholesterol, it can help lower your risk of blood clots, heart disease, and stroke. Learn more about HDL cholesterol.
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Eat A Variety Of Healthy Proteins
The best choices of protein are fish and seafood, legumes , nuts and seeds. You can eat smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry but limit red meat to 1-3 times a week.
Flavour foods with herbs and spices rather than salt, and avoid processed foods as these contain a lot of salt too. Salt can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease.
What Causes High Cholesterol If I Eat Healthy Can It Be Genetic
If you eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise but still have high cholesterol, your DNA may be a bigger factor than your lifestyle. About 1 in 250 people in the United States live with familial hypercholesterolemia , a life-threatening inherited disorder that causes high cholesterol.
Unfortunately, 90 percent of people who have it dont know it, according to the FH Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in Pasadena, California. Screening for high cholesterol is the only way to identify people who have FH. Because of this, all children should have a cholesterol screening once between ages 9 and 11, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics.
If your LDL is above 100, its already considered high. If its higher than 190, you may have FH, according to leading heart groups, such as the AHA, the American College of Cardiology, and the National Lipid Association. If a parent has FH, their child has a chance of having it, too. Finding out if you have FH and getting treated if you do is vital, because having FH means your risk of heart disease is 20 times higher than that of people who dont have inherited high cholesterol, according to the FH Foundation.
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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.
When Should My Cholesterol Levels Be Tested
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini stroke , or peripheral arterial disease
- have a family history of early;cardiovascular disease
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition
- are overweight
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Triglycerides In Your Blood
In addition to cholesterol, your blood also contains a type of fat called triglycerides, which are stored in your bodys fat deposits. Hormones release triglycerides to make energy between meals.;
When you eat, your body converts any extra energy it doesnt need right away into triglycerides.
Like cholesterol, your body needs triglycerides to work properly. However, there is evidence to suggest that some people with high triglycerides are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.;
If you regularly eat more energy than you need, you may have high triglycerides .;
What Are Hdl Ldl And Vldl
HDL, LDL, and VLDL are lipoproteins. They are a combination of fat and protein. The lipids need to be attached to the proteins so they can move through the blood. Different types of lipoproteins have different purposes:
- HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. It is sometimes called “good” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body.
- LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. It is sometimes called “bad” cholesterol because a high LDL level leads to the buildup of plaque in your arteries.
- VLDL stands for very low-density lipoprotein. Some people also call VLDL a “bad” cholesterol because it too contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries. But VLDL and LDL are different; VLDL mainly carries triglycerides and LDL mainly carries cholesterol.
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Foods That Lower Cholesterol
Have you ever thought you could reduce your high cholesterol levels simply by not eating foods that contain cholesterol ? You’re not alone.
In fact, even the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommended against consuming more than 300 mg of dietary cholesterol a day, as foods that are higher in dietary cholesterol are also higher in saturated fats. And the Dietary Guidelines suggest limiting saturated fats.
It is important to keep in mind though that the Dietary Guidelines do reference the fact that “adequate evidence is not available for a;quantitative;limit for dietary cholesterol,” so all available evidence suggests there is no relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and levels of blood cholesterol.
We aren’t saying that changing your diet won’t help you reduce your numbers. Eating the right foods is one of the most effective ways to loweror maintain healthy levels ofyour cholesterol. So besides exercising more, cutting out refined sugars, and steering clear of foods high in saturated and trans fats, simply incorporate the foods below into your weekly routine. Wondering which foods to avoid? Start with these common foods that raise your heart attack risk.
Before we go into our list of foods, here’s a general review of what types of cholesterol are found in your body:
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.
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Who Should Be Tested
Your GP may recommend that you have your blood cholesterol levels tested if you:
- have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke or mini-stroke , or peripheral arterial disease
- are over the age of 40;;people over 40 should have their estimate of CVD risk reviewed regularly
- have a family history of early cardiovascular disease; for example, if your father or brother developed heart disease or had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55, or if your mother or sister had these conditions before the age of 65
- have a close family member who has a cholesterol-related condition, such as familial hypercholesterolaemia
- are overweight or obese
- have high blood pressure or diabetes
- have another medical condition, such as kidney disease, an underactive thyroid, or an inflamed pancreas ; these conditions can cause increased levels of cholesterol or triglycerides
Here Are 7 Clear Signs That Your Cholesterol Is Too High
High cholesterol levels can be particularly dangerous as it greatly increases the risk of heart diseases, such as a stroke. Too much cholesterol leads to an excessive buildup of plaque, which means itll start narrowing or even blocking your arteries. A blood clot is often the cause of a heart attack or a stroke.
Additionally, an excessive amount of cholesterol can also lead to stiff arteries, preventing them from widening to increase the blood flow in your body.
In other words, the consequences of having high cholesterol are pretty severe. Only a doctor can reliably determine whether or not you have too much cholesterol with a blood test, but there are good indications and signs out there that could warn you of too much cholesterol in the body.
Lets take a look.
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What Can Happen If Your Arteries Become Clogged Up
If your arteries become clogged up with blood fats, your blood can’t flow around your body easily. This can lead to a number of diseases of the heart and blood vessels.;
These diseases are known together as cardiovascular disease cardio refers to the heart, and vascular refers to the blood vessels.
Coronary heart disease
This is where the arteries have become clogged up and stiff with atherosclerosis. The blood cant flow around the body and back to the heart easily, and blood clots can form. This can lead to chest pain, heart failure, heart attacks and strokes.
This is a dull, heavy or tight pain in the chest which can spread to the left arm, neck, jaw or back. It happens when the arteries leading to the heart have become narrowed and the heart doesnt get enough oxygen. The pain can be brought on by exercise or activity, as the heart needs more oxygen during physical activity.
A heart attack
This is a medical emergency. It happens when an artery leading to the heart becomes completely blocked, often by a blood clot, cutting off the blood supply. Part of the heart muscle quickly dies, but if its treated very early the blockage can be removed.If you think you or someone you are with is having a heart attack, call 999 straight away. The signs of a heart attack include:
- a crushing pain in the chest
- feeling weak or faint
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How The Fat You Eat Affects Cholesterol Levels
The relationship between the fat we eat and our health, particularly our cardiovascular health, has been hotly debated for many years.
Heres what you need to know:
There are different types of fats in our diet:
- Polyunsaturated fats: essential and important nutrients
- Monounsaturated fats: can come from plant or animal products and are generally considered healthy
- Saturated fats: less healthy than mono- and polyunsaturated fats
- Trans fats: unhealthy fats
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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 amount 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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How Do Doctors Diagnose High Cholesterol
Experts recommend a routine cholesterol screening every 4 to 6 years. A cholesterol screening is an overall look at, or profile of the fats in your blood. It is typically part of a blood test called a full lipid profile, which shows the actual levels of each type of fat in your blood: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and others, as well as total cholesterol. Depending on your personal health factors and medical history, your doctor may recommend testing your cholesterol more often.
Testing is important because high blood cholesterol is a significant risk factor in andstroke. Lowering blood cholesterol through increased physical activity, weight loss, smoking cessation, and proper diet decreases that risk. However, blood cholesterol is very specific to each person. For that reason, a full lipid profile is an important part of your medical history and essential information for your doctor to have.
If abnormalities are discovered a second series of blood tests may be ordered to help your doctor better understand your clinical situation. For example, different cholesterol subunits respond better to different medications. Other subunits do not respond to medication and, in that case, none may be prescribed.
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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