What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat called lipid. The body uses it for many purposes, for example, to form new cells. The liver produces the amount of cholesterol needed by the body. Also, cholesterol is ingested with food.
The body needs a certain amount of cholesterol. But if it becomes too much, it begins to be deposited on the walls of the arteries. (Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart.) This is called arterial occlusion or atherosclerosis. This is usually a slow process that is complicated with age.
To understand what is happening, think about the blockage that forms in the pipe under the kitchen sink. Just as the lubricant accumulates in the pipe, so the formation of cholesterol in the arteries narrows them and limits the flow of blood. Thus, less blood gets into the tissues of the body, including the heart. This can lead to serious problems, including heart attack and stroke.
A simple blood test will determine your cholesterol level. Cholesterol is measured in mg / dl, but doctors usually use the same numbers. Blood cholesterol levels can help your doctor determine your risk of having a heart attack. For risk assessment, the doctor will also take into account such factors as age, blood pressure indicators, family history and smoking.
For a general overview of cholesterol levels, compare your scores with the following:
- The most optimal cholesterol level – 200.
- The maximum allowable – 200- 239.
- High – 240 and higher.
Symptoms of high cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, this does not mean that you will feel bad. But if cholesterol is deposited on the walls of the arteries, it can block the blood supply to the heart or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke.
By the time you find that you have high cholesterol, your arteries may already be blocked. Therefore, it is very important to start treatment in advance, even if you feel well.
What are the types of cholesterol?
Cholesterol moves throughout the body in conjunction with protein – a complex compound of cholesterol and protein called lipoprotein. Lipoproteins can be of high, low or very low density, depending on the ratio of proteins and fats.
- Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are also called “bad” cholesterol. They are mainly composed of fat and a small amount of protein. They can block your arteries. If you have a high level of LDL, the doctor will prescribe a treatment for you to reduce it.
- High density lipoproteins (HDL) are also called “good” cholesterol. They have more protein than fat. They help cleanse the blood of bad cholesterol and prevent its formation on the walls of the arteries. A high level of HDL reduces the likelihood of a heart attack.
- Triglycerides are another type of fat that enters the bloodstream and can affect your health. If you have high levels of triglycerides and LDL, your risk of getting a heart attack increases.
You must remember that PAPs must be at a high level, and LDL – at a low level.
Experts have established optimal performance for each type of cholesterol. Your doctor will help you decide which indicators you should aim for, depending on your risk of heart attack and stroke. Your doctor will also help you determine these risks.
- LDL should be low. Target level of LDL depends on the risk of heart attack and stroke. If you are at very high risk, your level of LDL should be 70. At high risk, the level of LDL should be 100. With an average risk of 130, and at low risk, 160.
- HDL must be high. The optimal level is 40 or higher. HDL levels above 60 help prevent heart attack and reduce LDL, and below 40 it increases the risk of heart disease.
- Triglycerides should be less than 150. A level above 159 increases the chances of heart disease.
Causes of High Cholesterol
Many factors can cause an increase in cholesterol levels, including:
- Diet Excessive intake of saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol can increase blood cholesterol. Saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol are found in animal products (meat, whole milk, egg yolks, butter and cheese), many packaged foods and snacks, such as cookies, crackers and chips.
- The weight. Excess weight can help increase triglycerides and lower HDL.
- The level of physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle can increase LDL levels and reduce HDL levels.
- General health. Diseases, such as hypothyroidism, can increase cholesterol levels. Smoking can lower HDL.
- Age. Cholesterol levels begin to rise after 20 years. In men, it usually begins to grow after 50 years, while in women it remains fairly low during menopause, after which it rises to the same level as in men.
- A family. Some people are genetically transmitted a rare disease called fat metabolism disorder. It can cause very high cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as low HDL. If you have this disease, you will have to start treatment at a young age.
Diagnose High Cholesterol
Doctors prescribe a blood test to determine cholesterol levels.
- A fasting blood test for cholesterol (also called a fat test) is the most complete test. It measures total cholesterol, LDL, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Before this analysis can not eat 9-12 hours.
- Direct analysis on LDL measures only the level of LDL. You can do this analysis at any time, even if you have just eaten.
- A simple blood test for cholesterol measures total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. Before this analysis, you can eat. Sometimes doctors first prescribe just a simple cholesterol test. If he or she shows that you have high cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol, your doctor may also prescribe a blood test for fasting cholesterol.
High Cholesterol Treatment
The two main methods of treatment are lifestyle changes and medication. The goal of treatment is to reduce the level of bad cholesterol and the risk of heart attack. You may also need to increase your good cholesterol. A high level of HDL helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
Certain changes in lifestyle are necessary for anyone with elevated cholesterol. Your doctor will probably advise you:
- Follow the diet TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes). The goal – to reduce the use of saturated fat. Saturated fats increase blood cholesterol. The TLC diet teaches you to make wise decisions about your diet and choose low-fat foods, as well as foods that contain healthy fat, such as olive or canola oil.
- Get rid of excess weight, if you have it. Slimming 2.3 – 4.5 kg will help you reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. It will also help lower blood pressure.
- Keep an active lifestyle. Exercise will increase the level of good cholesterol and help you control your weight.
- Stop smoking if you smoke. This will help you increase your HDL levels and improve heart health.
Sometimes a fairly healthy lifestyle. But if you have been living a healthy lifestyle for several months, but have not reached the desired level of cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe drugs to lower cholesterol called statins. You may also need drugs to lower triglycerides or increase HDL.
You can start taking medication right away if you have too high cholesterol or you suffer from a disease that increases your risk of getting a heart attack. People at high risk of heart disease take large doses of statins to minimize LDL levels. The lower the LDL level, the lower the risk of heart attack.
It is important to take medications as recommended by the doctor. If you stop taking the drug, your cholesterol level may rise again.
You will need to regularly measure cholesterol levels. This will help your doctor evaluate the results of treatment or find new treatments.
The goal of treating high cholesterol is to reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke.
Most people need to change their lifestyle, namely to eat less saturated fat and trans fat, play sports, lose weight, if necessary. Some people also need to take medicine.
No matter which method you choose, your treatment will focus on lowering LDL levels.
At the same time, you may need to increase the level of HDL. Although it may seem strange, but this type of cholesterol helps to remove LDL from the arteries.
After your doctor has determined your cholesterol levels, he will prescribe a treatment based on these indicators, as well as your general health.
First you will receive recommendations on proper nutrition. The doctor may advise you to follow a diet to reduce cholesterol, which provides for limited consumption of saturated fats, as well as the use of healthy fats, such as in olive or canola oil.
It is very important to exercise. Exercise will increase your HDL level and help you lose weight, if necessary. If you smoke, avoiding a bad habit will help increase the level of HDL.
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or coronary artery disease, or if you have very high cholesterol, you may be prescribed medication right away. Since you have a high chance of getting a heart attack, medications will help reduce this risk. Your doctor will prescribe a treatment depending on your degree of risk.
Most likely, you will be prescribed drugs called statins. They reduce the amount of cholesterol produced by the body. It has been proven that statins reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and death in people who are at particular risk.
Recommendations from the US National Educational Commission on Cholesterol recommend that large doses of statins be taken for people with moderate to high risk of heart attack. The goal of treatment is to reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke. Side effects are more likely and may be serious when using high doses of statins.
You are considered to be at particular risk if you suffer from coronary artery disease or diabetes, acute coronary syndrome, metabolic syndrome, or if you smoke.
Control diseases that you have, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and quit smoking if you smoke.
As your treatment goes through, your doctor will check your cholesterol level. If you lead a healthy lifestyle, but do not take drugs, the analysis will show whether this is enough for you, or you should also try a drug treatment.
If you are already taking drugs, an analysis for cholesterol will show whether this drug or dosage is right for you.
You can also ask for help from a doctor if you have problems with changing the diet. Then it will be useful for you to address the nutritionist.
It is very important to be in good physical shape. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising are important because they help increase HDL levels and lower LDL levels. Studies show that people who do more exercise have a more optimal level of HDL and LDL.
Getting rid of excess weight also helps lower blood pressure.
Treatment of exacerbation of the disease
It is important to strictly follow the recommendations of the doctor regarding lifestyle changes and taking medications. If you do not treat high cholesterol, it can lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.
What should think
High cholesterol caused by a genetic (inherited) disorder of fat metabolism is usually treated with medication.
Most people with high cholesterol can be cured with a healthy lifestyle and medication. If high cholesterol causes coronary artery disease, over time you may need surgery to unblock or bypass a blocked artery.