It is an essential structural component in the cell membrane. It is present as a waxy substance in your blood cell and helps in building healthy blood cells. But a higher level of cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease.
When your cholesterol level is high, fatty deposits are left in blood vessels. These deposits trouble the flow of blood and sometimes it forms a clot in your arteries resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
How to identify cholesterol
Unfortunately, there will be no symptoms if your cholesterol range is high. The only option to identify is by a blood test. For children and young adults, the test can be done between the age of 9 and 11 and a repeat test at the age of 17 and 19. If you have no risk of heart disease then the test is suggested for grown adults in once in 5 years.
Your doctor will suggest frequent tests if you have a higher range of cholesterol. Even more frequent tests are suggested if you have a family history of heart disease or smoking.
Causes of cholesterol
Cholesterol is attached to the proteins that are carried by your blood. The protein and cholesterol combination is called a lipoprotein. Based on the type of cholesterol present they are classified into two types:
- Low-density lipoprotein(LDL)
- High-density lipoprotein(HDL)
LDL or bad cholesterol covers the most cholesterol in your body. When the range of LDL rises you will have a higher risk of heart disease or stroke. When there is high LDL, it gets built up on your artery walls. This is called “plaque” As this gets built up for years, the blood vessels narrow. Thus blocking blood flow to your heart and other organs. When there is a blockage in blood vessels linked to the heart, it causes a heart attack.
These are good cholesterol. It collects cholesterol from all the parts of your body and delivers it to the liver. Your liver extracts the cholesterol and removes it from your body.
Triglycerides are fat present in your blood cell. The measure of this can also detect cholesterol levels.
Factors causing high cholesterol
Most of the risk factors are involved with your poor diet and weight. But some other factors which cant be controlled like your Gene also play a vital role. In some cases due to your gene, the Liver may produce high cholesterol. The common factors are as follows:
Poor diet: Eating food rich in saturated fats and trans fats will increase your cholesterol level. It is mostly present in packaged foods like noodles, cookies, popcorn, chips. Also, a high intake of red meat increases your cholesterol level.
Obesity: Obese persons are more vulnerable to cholesterol as there are more fat deposits in their body.
Lack of exercise: Doing workouts regularly helps in flushing out the toxins thus balancing the proper production of cholesterol.
Age: As you increase with your age, your whole body process gets slow down. The liver works slowly and removes less LDL causing a spike in your cholesterol level.
Diabetes: High sugar level increases the risk of having high cholesterol. It also damages the artery linings thus making your heart functioning weak.
High cholesterol makes more plaque deposit. It can also happen in the artery walls called atherosclerosis. These deposits can cause major complications like
Chest pain: If the coronary artery (artery supplies blood to the heart) gets blocked, it can cause chest pain (Angina) and also leads to some other coronary artery disease.
Heart attack: If the deposited plaque ruptures, the flow of blood to your heart stops causing a heart attack.
Stroke: If a blockage occurs in your brain it causes a stroke.
Cholesterol can be controlled by yourself from the following ways
- Low salt intake in foods and including more fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Avoiding packaged foods and fried foods
- Quit smoking and alcohol
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle by having regular work out sessions.
- Stress management by doing yoga and meditation