High Cholesterol is the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood. It is not a disease but a metabolic derangement that can be secondary to many diseases & can contribute to many forms of diseases, most notably cardiovascular diseases. It is nearly related to the terms “hyperlipidemia” (elevated levels of lipids) & “hyperlipoproteinemia” (elevated levels of lipoproteins).
What are the causes of high cholesterol?
- Poor diet. Eating saturated fat, found in animal products, and trans fats, found in some commercially baked cookies and crackers, can raise your cholesterol level. Foods that are high in cholesterol, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, will also increase your total cholesterol.
- Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater puts you at risk of high cholesterol.
- Large waist circumference. Your risk increases if you are a man with a waist circumference of at least 40 inches (102 centimeters) or a woman with a waist circumference of at least 35 inches (89 centimeters).
- Lack of exercise. Exercise helps boost your body’s HDL, or “good,” cholesterol while increasing the size of the particles that make up your LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, which makes it less harmful.
- Cigarette smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them likely to accumulate fatty deposits. Smoking may also lower your level of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.
- High blood sugar contributes to higher LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. High blood sugar also damages the lining of your arteries.
Symptoms of high cholesterol:
Elevated cholesterol does not lead to specific symptoms unless it has been longstanding. Several types of hypercholesterolemia lead to specific physical findings like:
- Xanthoma (thickening of tendons due to the accumulation of cholesterol),
- Xanthelasma palpabrum (yellowish patches around the eyelids) &
- Arcus senilis (white discoloration of the peripheral cornea).
Organs affected due to high cholesterol include the heart and also the liver.
Prevention of high cholesterol can be done through
- Eat a low-salt diet that includes many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Limit the number of animal fats and use good fats in moderation
- Lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Exercise on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all