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High Cholesterol Symptoms | MedGuidance

High Cholesterol Symptoms

High cholesterol can affect people from all backgrounds and of all ages. In fact, about 17% of adults in the United States have high cholesterol and the same is true of over 30 million in the UK. There are no obvious high cholesterol symptoms, but high cholesterol level does increase the risk of some conditions, including circulatory ailments such as stroke and heart disease. As such, the condition is referred to as a “silent killer.” According to the National Cholesterol Education Program, those over 20 years old should measure their blood cholesterol once each five years at a minimum.

Does High Cholesterol Have Any Symptoms? And What Are the Potential Complications of High Cholesterol?

There are no clear high cholesterol symptoms and the only way to tell whether a person has high levels is via a blood test. Despite this, you should pay attention to potential complications like the following:

  • ŸChest PainChest pain (angina) as well as other coronary artery disease symptoms may occur when the coronary arteries (which give blood to the heart) are affected.
  • ŸHeart AttackIf a plaque ruptures or tears, blood clots can form and then block the blood flow. They may also break free and cause a blockage in another location. When part of your heart can no longer receive blood, you get a heart attack.
  • ŸStrokeThis occurs when the blood flow to a portion of your brain gets blocked due to a blood clot.

What Is Cholesterol?

To understand high cholesterol, you need to know what cholesterol is. It is a fat-like, waxy substance that our bodies need for normal functioning. It occurs naturally in cell membranes and walls throughout the body, including the skin, intestines, liver, muscles, nerves, heart and brain. The body uses it to produce vitamin D, hormones, and bile acids that aid in digesting fat. The body requires only a small quantity to do all this. Cholesterol comes in three types:

1. Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL)

These are known as “bad cholesterol” because high levels of them cause stroke and heart disease. They are most of the cholesterol in the body.

2. High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL)

This is “good cholesterol” due to its ability to reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease when in high levels. Scientists believe it absorbs LDL before carrying LDL off to the liver whereLDL can be flushed from the body.

3. Triglycerides

These are not technically cholesterol; instead, they are a type of fat and high levels of them can increase your risk of heart disease. As such, they are usually tested when checking cholesterol levels.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

1. Age and Gender

Women tend to have lower cholesterol levels compared to men before menopause, but after they reach 50 years old, their levels are frequently higher. As people age, their blood cholesterol levels increase until age 60 to 65.

2. Alcohol

Drinking one or two alcoholic beverages a day will increase your HDL (good) without lowering LDL (bad). Over-drinking can damage the heart and liver, leading to high blood pressure and an increase in triglycerides, so you should limit the intake of alcohol.

3. Excess Weight

Being overweight can increase bad cholesterol. By losing weight, you can decrease your LDL cholesterol, increasing the good cholesterol instead.

4. Genetics

Genes can also influence the way that LDL (bad) cholesterol is metabolized. Inherited high cholesterol or familial hypercholesterolemia can bring on early heart disease.

5. Stress

Stress can increase blood cholesterol over a long period of time. It may do so by affecting your habits, for example, you would like to eat fatty foods with cholesterol and saturated fat owing to stress.

How Can High Cholesterol Be Treated?

1.   Medication for High Cholesterol

Medication

How It Works

Statins

Statins block one of the substances that the liver needs to produce cholesterol. It can also help reabsorb cholesterol in deposits along the artery walls. Some examples include simvastatin, rosuvastatin, pravastatinand lovastatin.

Bile-acid-binding resins

The liver makes bile acids with cholesterol and this is necessary for digestion. These medications bind to bile acids, lowering cholesterol by encouraging the liver to use extra cholesterol to produce more bile acids. Examples include colesevelam, cholestyramine and colestipol.

Cholesterol absorption inhibitors

These limit the ability of the small intestine to absorb dietary cholesterol. The most common example is ezetimibe (Zetia).

2.   Medications for High Triglycerides

Medication

How It Works

Fibrates

Certain medications (fenofibrate and gemfibrozil) reduce triglyceride levels by lowering the production of VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein), as this type of cholesterol is mostly made up triglycerides. It also increases the speed of triglyceride removal from the blood.

Niacin

This limits the ability of the liver to produce VLDL and LDL cholesterol. Prescription versions are ideal due to their limited side effects. Dietary supplements with niacin won’t work and may cause liver damage.

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements

These can be found over-the-counter or by a prescription. They lower triglyceride levels and are sometimes combined with other medications to lower cholesterol.

3.   Lifestyle Changes

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Any excess weight can contribute to your high cholesterol. Even losing 5 or 10 pounds will make a difference. Be sure to go with long-term goals that are sustainable.
  • Eat smart. You also need to make healthy food decisions and opt for fiber-rich items. Select healthier fats, such as monounsaturated fats that are in canola, peanut, and olive oils as well as nuts. Eliminate trans fats. Don’t have over 300 mg of cholesterol daily or 200 mg for those with heart disease. Pay attention to whole milk, egg yolksand organ meats.Opt for whole grains. Eat fruits and vegetables. Opt for heart-healthy fish. Only have alcohol in moderation
  • Do regular exercise. Try to slowly work your way up to 30 or 60 minutes of exercise each day. You can divide it up into smaller groups and just be sure to ask your doctor before starting to exercise.
  • Don't smokeStopping smoking will improve HDL cholesterol levels. Your blood pressure will also decrease and so will your risk of heart attack and heart disease.

You can find natural home remedies for high cholesterol from the video below:

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