What is Cholesterol Types Levels Prevention and Treatment
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found naturally in the blood. Predominantly produced in the liver, but also found in foods such as red meat, high fat cheese, butter and eggs, Cholesterol is essential for maintaining good health and only becomes a problem when the level in your blood is too high.
Most people think of cholesterol in a negative way but you will be surprised to learn that cholesterol performs a lot of essential functionsin our bodies:
- Cell membrane support. Cholesterol is a structural component of cells. Cholesterol along with polar lipids make up the structure of each and every cell in our bodies.
- Bile production. It plays an important role in our body's digestion. Cholesterol is used to help the liver create bile which aids us in digesting the food that we eat.
- Hormone production. One of the most important jobs of cholesterol is to aide in the production of hormones. Cholesterol is stored in the adrenal glands, ovaries and the testes and is converted to steroid hormones. These steroid hormones perform other vital duties to help the body function properly.
- Vitamin D production. Vitamin D is produced when the sun’s ultraviolet rays reach the human skin surface.
What are the Different Types of Cholesterol?
Cholesterol does not travel freely through the bloodstream.
According to The American Heart Association it cannot be dissolved in the blood and has to be carried to and from the cells by lipoproteins.
Lipoproteins come in two basic types.
The first is the low density cholesterol (LDL) which is also known as the "bad" cholesterol. It causes buildup on the artery walls which lead to heart disease.
The second type is the high density cholesterol (HDL) which is known as the "good" cholesterol. Research indicates that high density cholesterol seems to guard against heart problems.
There is another type of "bad" cholesterol: it is very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). Development of plaque on the arteries has been linked to high VLDL levels. It's not easy to measure VLDL, so most of the time these levels are estimated based on triglyceride measurements.
Triglycerides are a form of fat made in the body.They can also cause coronary disease.Though premenopausal women tend to have lower cholesterol than men, women tend to have higher triglyceride levels. It is important for women to get triglycerides tested, but doctors usually check triglycerides while testing cholesterol.
Total cholesterol score is the sum of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and 20% of triglycerides as determined by a blood test. A high score indicates an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease and/or strokes.
Symptoms and Signs of High Cholesterol
If you are wondering if you can feel whether or not your cholesterol is too high, the answer may surprise you: you often cannot feel that your cholesterol levels are elevated.Just like high blood pressure, cholesterol is a very well-known "silent killer", because it has no symptoms, but routine screening and regular blood tests can help detect high levels.
What are Normal Cholesterol Levels?
In a typical lipid profile, the fasting levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides are determined.
Levels and ranges
What causes High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol levels are due to a variety of factors including:
Heredity. Some people inherit genes from their mother, father or even grandparents that cause them to have too much cholesterol. This is called familial hypercholesterolemia. It is dangerous because it can cause premature atherosclerotic heart disease.
Poor diet. Eating saturated fat, found in animal products, and trans fats, found in some commercially baked cookies and crackers and microwave popcorn, can raise your cholesterol level. Foods that are high in cholesterol, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, will also increase your cholesterol.
Obesity. If you're overweight, it's likely that you'll have higher levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and a lower level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)
Age. Because your body's chemistry changes as you age, your risk of high cholesterol climbs. For instance, as you age, your liver becomes less able to remove LDL cholesterol.
Smoking. Cigarette smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them more prone to accumulate fatty deposits. Smoking might also lower your level of HDL, or "good," cholesterol.
Other conditions that can lead to high cholesterol levels, include:
- liver or kidney disease
- polycystic ovary syndrome
- pregnancy and other conditions that increase levels of female hormones
- underactive thyroid gland
- drugs that increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol, such as progestins, anabolic steroids, and corticosteroids
What Can Do to You High Cholesterol?
Elevated cholesterol levels are one of the risk factors for heart disease,stroke and peripheral artery disease.
How High Cholesterol Causes Heart Attack? If there is a clog in a coronary artery, your heart gets too little blood and oxygen. Without enough oxygen, your heart becomes weak and damaged. If the plaque breaks open, a blood clot may form on top of the buildup, further blocking blood flow. Or, a blood clot can break off and flow to an artery in another part of the body. If a clot completely blocks an artery feeding your heart, you have a heart attack.
How High Cholesterol Causes Stroke? Plaque buildup can also keep your brain from getting enough blood and oxygen. If a clot completely blocks an artery feeding your brain, you have a stroke.
Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol
There are methods people can use to reduce cholesterol levels and prevent them from increasing. One potential method is using therapeutic lifestyle changes, which includes:
- A heart-healthy diet emphasizes fruits,vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts, while curbing sugary foods and beverages. Eating this way may also help to increase your fiber intake, which is beneficial. A diet high in fiber can help lower cholesterol levels by as much as 10 percent.
- Eat a low-salt diet.
- Limit the amount 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.
- Manage stress.
When these steps are not enough, drug treatment may also be needed. There are several types of cholesterol - lowering drugs available, including:
Statins - They are the leading group of cholesterol - lowering drugs.
Statins work by decreasing the levels of cholesterol in your blood, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Statins have anti-inflammatory properties that impact blood vessels, the heart, and the brain. This effect could also lower the risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.
A variety of statin drugs are on the market including simvastatin (Zocor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), pravastatin (Pravachol), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), and rosuvastatin (Crestor).
Bile acid sequestrants- They reduce the amount of fat absorbed from food.Common bile-acid sequestrants include:Colestipol (Colestid) ,Cholestyramine (Questran).
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors - These drugs lower triglycerides in the blood and reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.
Some vitamins and supplements, such as Niacin stop the liver from removing HDL and lower triglycerides.
Omega-3 fatty acids - These acids raise the level of HDL and lowers triglycerides.
Natural Remedies for High Cholesterol
Few natural products have been clinically proven to reduce cholesterol. According to the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA), there’s no evidence that alternative or herbal therapies lower the risk of heart failure. However, many people have experienced some success with alternative treatments. Some of these cholesterol-lowering supplements and natural remedies include:
Fatty fish - According to the Mayo Clinic, experts have long believed that omega-3 fatty acids in fish help reduce the risk of dying from heart disease. More recent studies suggest that other nutrients in fish, or a combination of those nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, may help protect your heart. Eating one or two servings of fatty fish per week may lower your chances of dying from a heart attack.Some of the top sources of omega - 3s are fatty fish, particularly salmon, but also other varieties like herring, trout and tuna.
Oils - Some of the bestoils are: flaxseed, walnut, canola and soybean oil.Just be sure to mind your portion sizes, since even a small drizzle can pack a splash of calories.
Avocados -These creamy fruits are a terrific way to get more healthy unsaturated fats into your diet.Eating an avocado a day can help lower LDL cholesterol in overweight and obese people. They are different than most fruits, because they are loaded with healthy fats instead of carbs. They are creamy, tasty and high in fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
Green tea - Contains catechins that can reduce the buildup of LDL.
Beans or legumes could lower your LDL cholesterol by an average of 5 percent in just six weeks, according to a review of 26 studies. Like oats, beans are packed with soluble fiber that helps sweep cholesterol out of the bloodstream.
Dark chocolate lower the LDL cholesterol and raise the HDL cholesterol. Just stick with chocolate that’s 70 percent cocoa or higher—it contains more antioxidants and less sugar than the lower percentage stuff.
Fruits and Berries - Fruits and berries are among the world's most popular health foods.This is not surprising, given that they taste incredible. Fruits are also very easy to incorporate into the diet, because they require little to no preparation.
Nuts - A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart.Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.
Kale - The leafy veggie has been shown to bind to bile acid. What good does that do, exactly? “That helps the liver burn more fat, which in turn lowers cholesterol.” For the biggest benefit, opt for lightly cooked greens over raw ones.Research shows that steaming in particular seems to boost bile acid binding.
Whole-Grain Breads and Cereals - Studies show that dietary fiber can lower LDL cholesterol.To get more, skip refined grains with “enriched” flours in favor of labels that say “whole grains.” Breakfast is the perfect time to get a fiber boost. Try switching to oatmeal, whole wheat toast, or bran flakes cereal.
Oats - It is a top source, delivering around 2 grams of soluble fiber per half-cup cooked. The roughage isn’t well absorbed by your intestine, so it binds to cholesterol in the blood and helps remove it from the body.
Garlic -It is an edible bulb that’s been used as a cooking ingredient and medicine for thousands of years. It can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s also available in supplement form, as a capsule or tablet.Some research suggests that garlic may help lower your blood pressure, reduce your blood cholesterol levels, and slow the progress of atherosclerosis, reports NCCIH. However, as with many alternative therapies, studies have yielded mixed results. For example, some studies have found that taking garlic for one to three months helps lower blood cholesterol levels. However, an NCCIH-funded study on the safety and effectiveness of three garlic preparations found no long-term effect on blood cholesterol.
Turmeric - reduces LDL levels and delays plaque buildup in the arteries.
Warnings and sources
Do not use the information in this article in place of consulting with your doctor.