What Causes Ldl Cholesterol To Rise And What You Can Do About It
Getting blocked is no bueno â whether you’re talking about social media or your arteries. But you can prevent the latter and protect your heart by keeping “bad” cholesterol in check. Learn what causes high LDL and how to combat it with a low cholesterol diet and other lifestyle changes.
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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:
What Causes False High Triglyceride Readings
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute created the National Cholesterol Education Program in November 1985 to inform the American public about the dangers of high blood cholesterol and how to lower cholesterol through lifestyle changes. Like high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels also increase your risk for atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack, heart disease and diabetes. Your doctor can perform a lipid panel test on a blood sample to monitor your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Many factors, including foods and medications, affect your blood and can cause false high triglyceride readings.
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Natural Remedies And Lowering Cholesterol
Its very important to talk to your health professional before using any:
- natural remedies
- or complementary therapies.
Sometimes they can do more harm than good. They may interact with any medication that youre taking, which can be dangerous. They can also make your medication less effective. Your doctor needs to know everything that you are taking to ensure that the combination is safe.
If youve been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication, make sure you take it as directed by your doctor. This is one of the most effective ways to keep your cholesterol levels down.
Why It Is High :
There are a lot of different reasons as to why your cholesterol may be elevated within a short period of time.
When your cholesterol level spikes suddenly, where you usually run into trouble is with your diet. We all are constantly adding more cholesterol to our diet. Even if we do not eat any cholesterol, our bodies would still function normally. A diet high in saturated or trans fat will definitely raise your cholesterol. Fruit juices and whole grains may help in these cases.
There are some conditions where patients may not control the receptors to handle cholesterol, therefore their cholesterol will be high. Their bodies usually make too much cholesterol, so no matter what they do with their diet and with their exercise, they are still going to have high cholesterol. A lot of times these patients are advised to take certain medications and eat restrictively.
Excessive usage of drugs, may it be nicotine or alcohol, can affect your cholesterol level. Drugs are mostly inflammatory, and some of them are notorious for building fat in your arteries. Stop smoking or consuming alcohol until or unless your physician advises otherwise.
Less to no exercises
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Living With High Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, you are twice as likely to develop heart disease. That is why it is important to have your cholesterol levels checked, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. Reducing your LDL bad cholesterol through good diet, exercise, and medicine can make a positive impact on your overall health.
Some Less Common Conditions
We have two kidneys, and they’re responsible for cleaning our blood by filtering out waste products which are then removed from the body as urine.
Chronic Kidney Disease . This is the name for a gradual decline in kidney function. People with CKD often have abnormal blood fats raised LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and lower HDL cholesterol. Heart and blood vessel diseases are common in people with CKD so statins and other cholesterol-lowering treatments are recommended if you have CKD.
Nephrotic syndrome. This happens when our kidneys become leaky. It results in protein leaking into the urine. People with nephrotic syndrome often have raised levels of cholesterol and triglycerides too.
The liver is a very important organ. It is where cholesterol and triglycerides are processed, made or broken down. Bile, a breakdown product of cholesterol, is made in the liver, stored in the gall bladder and released into the gut when we eat a meal. Its role is to help break down fat from food into small drops which can then be easily digested.
Sometimes the production of bile or its release into the gut can become blocked, for example, if gall stones develop from crystallised cholesterol. Symptoms include pain, especially after a fatty meal. The medical name for this is cholestasis, where bile is unable to flow from the liver, and it can cause blood cholesterol levels in the blood to rise.
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Hear From Top Leaders In Medicine
From emerging issues to new innovations, the AMAs Moving Medicine podcast brings you the physicians, scientists and all the leading voices making a difference in health care today.
The AMAs What Doctors Wish Patients Knew series provides physicians with a platform to share what they want patients to understand about todays health care headlines.
In this installment, Kate Kirley, MD, a family doctor who is the director of chronic disease prevention at the AMA, shared what she and her physician colleagues wish patients knew about high cholesterol and how to lower levels.
High Cholesterol: The Big Picture
When the body’s metabolism the process by which the body turns food into energy is affected by a health problem, cholesterol levels in the blood are often affected, too. Figuring out the best way to treat high cholesterol starts with understanding why it’s happening identifying other health problems is a primary consideration.
“When we see people who come in for assessment of an elevated form of LDL cholesterol or triglycerides, we always want to look for associated metabolic abnormalities,” says cardiologist Stephen J. Nicholls, PhD, professor of cardiology at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
High cholesterol treatment is about “managing not just one risk factor in our patients, but the whole picture,” says Dr. Nicholls. “It’s often important to keep that in mind when you’re looking at a patient and their cholesterol levels.”
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Medical Conditions That Can Raise Cholesterol
Its also important to rule out medical conditions that can cause elevated cholesterol. These really dont have anything to do with the diet itself.
One example of that is reduced thyroid function. When thyroid function is lower than optimal, Total and LDL cholesterol can go up .
Another thing to consider is weight loss in some individuals, losing weight can temporarily increase LDL cholesterol.
If your levels go up at a time when you are losing weight rapidly, you may want to wait for a few months and then measure them again when your weight stabilizes.
Its also important to rule out a genetic condition like Familial Hypercholesterolemia, which afflicts about 1 in 500 people and is characterized by very high cholesterol levels and a high risk of heart disease.
Of course, there are many subtle genetic differences between us that can determine our responses to different diets, such as different versions of a gene called ApoE .
Now that all of that is out of the way, lets take a look at some actionable steps that you can take to bring those cholesterol levels down.
Make sure to rule out any medical or genetic condition that may be causing you to have high cholesterol.
Dont Rely On Behavioral Changes Alone
People ask a lot about behavioral changes that they can make to impact their cholesterol levels, said Dr. Kirley. This includes changing what they eat and their physical activity levels.
We see that increasing physical activity and eating a generally more healthful diet can be helpful for cholesterol levels, but these changes tend to have a relatively small impact on cholesterol levels, she said. Eating more veggies, eating less saturated fat and getting more physical activity – those are wonderful things for your health and we totally recommend themthey reduce your risk for heart attacks and strokes overall, Dr. Kirley added. But they tend to not change your cholesterol levels very much.
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You Skip Your Workouts
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to control your cholesterol. You donât have to run a marathon — 40 minutes of walking, swimming, cycling, or dancing 3 or 4 times a week will do the trick. If youâre short on time, you can break it into 10-minute increments throughout the day. Resistance training — pushups, pullups, weights — may help, too.
What Can Affect My Ldl Level
Things that can affect your LDL level include:
- Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level rise
- Weight. Being overweight tends to raise your LDL level, lower your HDL level, and increase your total cholesterol level
- Physical Activity. A lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain, which can raise your LDL level
- Smoking.Cigarette smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL from your arteries, if you have less HDL, that can contribute to you having a higher LDL level.
- Age and Sex. As women and men get older, their cholesterol levels rise. Before the age of menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After the age of menopause, women’s LDL levels tend to rise.
- Genetics. Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High cholesterol can run in families. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited form of high blood cholesterol.
- Medicines. Certain medicines, including steroids, some blood pressure medicines, and HIV/AIDS medicines, can raise your LDL level.
- Other medical conditions. Diseases such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS can cause a higher LDL level.
- Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high blood cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.
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Diagnosis Of High Cholesterol
In most cases, your doctor will find your high cholesterol through routine screening. A lipid panel usually measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol.
Your doctor may order other tests to help decide whether medicines are needed to lower your risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. These may include a coronary calcium scan, which uses computed tomography to detect calcium deposits in the arteries of your heart, and blood tests for levels of C-reactive protein and lipoprotein-a.
The American Heart Association recommends routine cholesterol screening for all adults after age 20, but your doctor may order lipid tests more often based on your individual and family risk.
Your doctor will ask about your eating habits, physical activity, family history, medicines you are taking, and risk factors for heart or blood vessel diseases. During your physical exam, your doctor will check for signs of very high blood cholesterol, such as xanthomas, or signs of other health conditions that can cause high blood cholesterol.
Too Much Worrying And Stress Can Increase Your Cholesterol And Your Heart Risk
You order grilled fish and salad at your favorite restaurant instead of the fried combo platter. You are truly making efforts to lower your cholesterol. In fact, you are so concerned about it, itâs stressing you out. What you might not realize is that stress can actually increase your cholesterol. This, in turn, raises your risk of heart disease.
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How To Lower Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medications or both.
Here are some ways to manage your cholesterol.
Eat heart-healthy food
What you eat can make a big difference to your cholesterol levels.
Cut back on foods high in saturated fats like:
Drink less alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. So drinking less is a good way to lower your cholesterol.
The Ministry of Health recommends no more than 10 standard drinks per week for women and no more than 15 for men. One standard drink is equal to:
- a standard can of 4% beer
- a small glass of wine
- a small single shot of spirits
If you have high cholesterol or you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition, you may need to drink less than this.
Smoking makes your LDL cholesterol stickier and reduces the amount of HDL cholesterol in your blood. It also damages the artery walls. This increases the build-up of plaque in your arteries and can cause risk of heart attack and stroke.
Quitting smoking is a great way to lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Sitting less and being more active are great ways to reduce high cholesterol.
This doesnt mean you have to join a gym or take up running it just means you need to move your body more throughout the day. Ideally you should do 30 minutes of activity a day.
You could try:
Read more about the benefits of exercise.
What Causes Hdl To Drop
- Diet. Eating a diet that is low infruits and vegetables and high in trans fats, processed meats and refinedcarbohydrates like sugar all negatively affect HDL levels.
- Exercise. A sedentary lifestyle whereyou dont get enough exercise also has a negative effect.
- Obesity. Having high body weight isanother factor that seems to negatively affect HDL levels.
- Smoking. Smoking has also been shownto decrease HDL levels.
- High blood sugar and blood pressure.Poor management of both of these cardiovascular issues can also pose problemsfor your HDL cholesterol levels.
The Mayo Clinic also notes that certain medications, such as those containing testosterone or anabolic steroids, can lower HDL levels.
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There Are No Warning Signs
Typically, there are not really warning signs for people with high cholesterol, said Dr. Kirley, noting there are some relatively uncommon disorders where people can get physical symptoms like lesions on their skin, but those are quite uncommon.
For the most part, the only way you can get insight into your cholesterol levels and how they might play into your risk for heart attack and stroke is to be evaluated by your physician and have your levels tested with a blood test, she added.
How Is Familial Hypercholesterolemia Treated
Like ordinary high cholesterol, FH is treated with diet. But unlike other forms of high cholesterol, treating with medication is also a must. A combination of both is needed to reduce cholesterol successfully and delay the onset of heart disease, heart attack, and other complications.
Your doctor will usually ask you to modify your diet and increase exercise along with prescribing medication. If you smoke, quitting smoking is also a critical part of treatment.
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Stress And Cholesterol Link
There is compelling evidence that your level of stress can cause an increase in bad cholesterol indirectly. For example, one study found that stress is positively linked to having less healthy dietary habits, a higher body weight, and a less healthy diet, all of which are known risk factors for high cholesterol. This was found to be especially true in men.
Another study that focused on over 90,000 people found that those who self-reported being more stressed at work had a greater chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol. This may be because the body releases a hormone called cortisol in response to stress. High levels of cortisol from long-term stress may be the mechanism behind how stress can increase cholesterol. Adrenaline may also be released, and these hormones can trigger a fight or flight response to deal with the stress. This response will then trigger triglycerides, which can boost bad cholesterol.
Regardless of the physical reasons why stress can impact cholesterol, multiple studies show a positive correlation between high stress and high cholesterol. While there are other factors that can contribute to high cholesterol, it seems that stress can be one, too.
You Eat A Lot Of Trans Fat
Sometimes called âpartially hydrogenatedâ fats or oils, you find them in fried foods, pastries, pizza dough, doughnuts, muffins, cookies, crackers, and many prepackaged foods. They raise your bad cholesterol levels and lower the good stuff. Check food labels to limit trans fats. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry, fish, and nuts.
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Change Your Habitual Response To Stress
Weâve covered how your body responds internally to stress. We see how this can cause an increase in cholesterol. Your external response can do the same.Often, we develop unhealthy habits to try to handle stress. We turn to food to soothe our souls. We light up a cigarette. We try to escape out our troubles by vegging out in front of the TV. We end up developing the unhealthy habits of overeating, smoking, and failing to exercise. These all contribute to raising your cholesterol.It is important to find healthy ways to handle stress. By coping with stress in better ways, you can avoid increasing your chances of high cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.