Cholesterol is a waxy and fatty substance found in your cells and your blood. Although it’s typically considered to come mainly from your diet, your liver actually produces most of the cholesterol your body needs.
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The Health Risks of High Cholesterol
There are two forms of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The high-density lipoprotein is the healthy or rather ‘good’ kind of cholesterol. Some of its essential functions include helping your glands to make hormones, keeping your cell walls flexible, helping your cells to maintain their structural integrity, and allowing your liver to produce bile.
The unhealthy ‘bad’ kind of cholesterol is referred to as low-density lipoprotein. It can build up in the arteries and form waxy, fatty deposits known as plaques. So, this means that having too much low-density cholesterol can have a negative impact on your health.
COMMON HEALTH RISK FACTORS
Here are some of the common health risk factors associated with high LDL cholesterol levels and how they can be controlled through medication, diet, and exercise. Read on!
1. Damage your arteries
When you’ve too much low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the body, it can build up into plaques, potentially causing damage in your arteries. The plaque can:
a) Harden your arteries
Having hardened arteries means that your blood flow is limited all over your body. Your heart will have to work extra hard, which can result in heart disease and high blood pressure.
b) Narrow your arteries
This can limit blood flow as well.
c) Block the arteries
When blood clots form around a cracked part of a plaque, it can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
High cholesterol is also linked to peripheral arterial disease. It refers to diseases of blood vessels, which are outside the brain and heart. The fatty deposits usually build up along your artery walls affecting blood circulation, mostly in arteries that lead to the feet and legs, although the kidney arteries can be affected as well.
2. Damage your brain
Whilst cholesterol helps to develop and protect nerve cells, high LDL cholesterol can potentially result in plaque, which damages the brain. This leads to loss of movement, memory loss, strokes, and has been associated with an increased risk of dementia.
3. Create gallstones
Cholesterol is vital for bile production, which aids the body in breaking down foods as well as absorbing nutrients. However, when there is too much cholesterol, bile forms into crystals and then creates gallstones, which are usually very painful.
When discussing the potential consequences of high cholesterol, it’s important to note that individuals with elevated LDL cholesterol may face an increased risk of developing health issues such as congestive heart failure and weight gain. This underscores the significance of adopting a proactive approach to cholesterol management through lifestyle changes and medical interventions.
4. Type 2 diabetes
Persons with diabetes tend to have decreased HDL, sometimes increased LDL, and increased triglycerides. This enhances the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of cholesterol, fats, and other substances on and in the walls of arteries.
HOW TO CONTROL CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
The trick is to keep bad cholesterol levels down and good cholesterol up, and their many changes that you can make to your lifestyle and diet to do this. They include:
Moderate physical activity can significantly help raise HDL cholesterol. Whether you’re 5 or 35, physical activity is always a good choice. Even if you’re a senior there are a lot of tutorials and exercise videos for seniors you can try. With your health provider’s OK, consider vigorous aerobic activity for around 75 minutes per week, or moderate exercise for 150 minutes a week, as per the NHS guidelines.
Moderate physical activity can significantly help raise HDL cholesterol.
Whether you’re 5 or 35, physical activity is always a good choice. Even if you’re a senior there is a lot of tutorials and exercise videos for seniors you can try.
With your health provider’s OK, consider vigorous aerobic activity for around 75 minutes per week, or moderate exercise for 150 minutes a week, as per the NHS guidelines.
2. Quit smoking and drink alcohol in moderation
Smoking and too much alcohol can result in serious health issues like heart failure, strokes, and high blood pressure, not to mention the fact they increase levels of LDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that quitting smoking is associated with an increase in good cholesterol.
3. Eat healthy foods
If you want to improve your heart health and reduce cholesterol, you need to reduce saturated fats and trans fats while adding whey protein, soluble fibre, and foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids.
THE FINAL VERDICT
High cholesterol can be damaging to the heart and lead to health problems, significantly shortening your lifespan. It is essential to maintain healthy habits such as quitting smoking, having a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
If you are concerned you may be at risk or have high cholesterol, consider working with a doctor to discuss ways in which you can address it to prevent any future health problems.
Do you suffer from high cholesterol? What things do you do to improve your health condition?
*Disclosure: Paid Collaboration with Dr Felix
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