An individual with high levels of cholesterol remains asymptomatic. The condition causes gradual damage to the health and its damaging impact can be seen mostly during some sudden event of health damage, such as heart attack or stroke. One might not be aware that their cholesterol levels have been persistently high, they may come to the realization only after experiencing some significant health damage.
In this blog, we shall see what cholesterol is and what can be the indications of having persistently high levels of cholesterol in the blood.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance, which is a fat that is produced by your liver. The liver produces different kinds of cholesterols out of which there are three main types – High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density cholesterol, and triglycerides. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the fat that leads to health damage, which is why it is known as “bad” cholesterol. When LDL levels in your blood increase, it causes the accumulation of plaque in the blood vessels.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is also called “good” cholesterol, which does not contribute to any harm to your health, instead, it protects your health by lowering the levels of LDL and triglycerides in your blood. It reduces the health risk by carrying the bad cholesterol back to the place where it is produced, that is, the liver, and gets it eliminated from the body. For optimal health of the heart, one must have their HDL levels higher.
Symptoms of high cholesterol
High cholesterol cannot be indicated unless it causes some substantial damage. Extreme events like a heart attack or stroke can be a result of high cholesterol. It happens due to the building up of plaque in the passages of the blood vessels. The plaque is nothing but LDL, which gets produced in the liver and then gets released into the bloodstream.
After getting released into the bloodstream, it flows, and the fatty substances due to their wax-like form sticks to the inner lining of the blood vessels. The fat gets accumulated in the vascular passages, which narrows the blood vessels and hinders the flow of blood through them. Plaque formation may happen over the years, which is why the health impact can be sudden.
Following are some health issues that may arise because of persistent high cholesterol:
The deposition of cholesterol fat leads to the clogging of arteries. This potentiates the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Moreover, The fat accumulated in the walls of the blood vessels can come off and clog the entire vascular passage, thereby blocking the flow of blood through the arteries. This sudden rupture of plaque forms a clot in the blood vessels which can lead to a drastic event like a heart attack or stroke.
Signs of a heart attack can be dizziness, breathing difficulties, a feeling of tightness, pain, fullness, or squeezing in the chest or arms. A life-threatening situation like this requires immediate medical attention.
When plaque build-up happens, it can block or restrict the supply of blood to the brain. Lack of blood flow to the brain can cause the brain to deprive of adequate oxygen. Which may lead to the rupturing of the blood vessel in the brain. The sudden rupturing of the blood vessel leads to a stroke.
Peripheral arterial diseases (PAD)
This condition occurs when plaque accumulation takes place in the arteries that are responsible for supplying blood to the arms, legs, feet, stomach, and kidneys. This condition can be indicated when you develop some symptoms such as achiness, cramping, fatigue, pain, and discomfort in your legs and feet. Individuals diagnosed with PAD are at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack, or stroke.
Coronary artery disease (CAD)
This type of condition occurs when plaque deposition happens in the main arteries that supply blood to your heart. The plaque buildup can narrow the vascular passages and block the blood flow to the heart. Individuals diagnosed with CAD are also at a higher risk of heart attack.
It is the accumulation of cholesterol fat in the blood vessels, which makes them come hard. The clogging inhibits the flow of blood through the vascular passages which deprives the organs of oxygen and essential minerals.
How to manage your cholesterol in a healthy range?
Given below are some lifestyle changes you need to implement to bring down your cholesterol levels and live a healthy life.
Eating foods that are clean and healthy is necessary. You need to give up fast food, fried food, junk, and processed foods to avoid any health damage. Such foods may contain high quantities of saturated fats or trans fat, which increases the levels of cholesterol in the blood. So, choose your meals wisely.
With regular physical activity, you will be able to reduce cholesterol levels. When you engage in physical activity, your HDL levels rise. HDL cholesterol lowers LDL levels and prevents risks due to cholesterol. Hence, exercising is a must.
Give up smoking
Moreover, Smoking can support plaque formation and speed up cholesterol deposition in the vascular passages. Smokers tend to experience cholesterol issues very early on. Therefore, abstaining from smoking will help eliminate the risk of health damage due to cholesterol.
One should monitor their cholesterol levels by getting routine tests done in the doctor’s office. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one must get a cholesterol check in every 4 to 6 years. This step will help them in the early detection of high cholesterol and take measures for prevention.