Cholesterol – Causes, Types And Treatment

Every time you pick a huge burger which looks amply tasty, remember you may be doing yourself more harm than good! Well, this does not mean that you should never eat outside or that all fast or junk foods are unhealthy but continuous intake of such foods may cause health complications. High cholesterol is one such health complication that you may develop as a result of consuming junk food. High levels of low density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol cause many health hazards like heart problems. Essentially cholesterol does not have the ability to get dissolved in your blood. Cholesterol travels throughout your blood by binding itself with lipoprotein. A lipoprotein is formed when cholesterol binds with proteins and this complex is responsible for carrying the former around human body.


What is cholesterol and what can it cause?

Fig:- High Cholesterol Level

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Every cell in your body has cholesterol on the outer layer, which is a waxy and fat-like substance. Cholesterol, like fat molecules, is needed for proper functioning of your body in maintaining cell membranes and releasing important hormones such as the sex hormones. When cholesterol is more than the optimum level in your blood, it gets piled up in your cell walls and reduces the diameter of arteries. This, over time, goes on narrowing your arteries which does not permit much blood to pass through. The excess cholesterol which gets deposited is called plaque and once formed, leads to an alarming situation for human body.

This kind of deposition makes your body susceptible to various health risks like heart attack or stroke because deposition of plaque on arterial walls totally blocks the blood flow. Once this blockage happens, it affects the heart and brain. At times the blockage can rupture which can cause a clot in the coronary artery.

Angina or chest pain happens when plaque partially blocks a coronary artery which in turn reduces blood flow towards your heart. This may result in a heart attack or a stroke. When a person suffers from high cholesterol, there are usually no visible symptoms and so many do not get their cholesterol levels checked. Consequently, they are not aware that they are standing at a health risk.

Types of cholesterol

All it takes is a blood test through which it will get detected whether you have a high count of cholesterol or not. If cholesterol is detected, you can take preventive measures which might help you to drop the high count of cholesterol. Lipoproteins, the carrier molecules, can either have beneficial or detrimental effect on your health. LDL, HDL and VLDL are the three types of lipoproteins,

Low density lipoproteins or LDL is the most dangerous of the three types of cholesterol. Sadly LDL makes up the majority of your body’s cholesterol level and is responsible for carrying cholesterol between liver and blood cells. High levels of LDL can become dangerous as it leads cholesterol to build up on arterial walls resulting into cardiovascular disease.

HDL or high density lipoprotein helps in removal of LDL or low density lipoprotein. As said above, LDL is responsible for building up plaque in arteries which in turn cause heart disease. HDL functions by absorbing cholesterol and carrying it back to your liver so that it gets flushed out of your body. Clearly this makes HDL the cholesterol that is beneficial for your health as it reduces the chance of you suffering from a stroke or heart disease. It should be kept in mind that the cholesterol which your body produces is influenced by the kind of genes you carry. You can easily make changes in your diet to include more of HDL and reduce the level of LDL.

VLDL or Very Low Density Lipoprotein is another type of lipoprotein which is similar to LDL to a certain extent, though there is a slight difference between the two. VLDL carries mostly fat and less protein as compared with LDL. Triglyceride is another type of fat which is again carried by LDL. Excess calories, alcohol, or sugar in your body are converted into triglycerides and stored as fat throughout your body.

Is cholesterol so bad?

No, cholesterol is not all that bad! It is actually an essential component for building and maintaining your body. It is responsible for preserving the proper functioning of a cell and producing essential hormones in your body. Many important hormones including progestogen, oestrogen and testosterone are provided sustenance by cholesterol along with production of bile acids necessary for the process of digestion.

The normal count of cholesterol in your body is between 3.6mmol/litre and 7.8mmol/litre. A study suggests that if any reading is over 6mmol/litre, it is considered a high count and can contribute towards raising the risk of developing arterial diseases. The UK Department of Health is targeting an average cholesterol level count of 5mmol/litre but the majority of UK residents actually fall under the average of having cholesterol count between 5.5 to 5.6mmol/litre.

High levels of cholesterol may cause-

High levels of cholesterol can be a major causative reason behind atherosclerosis, a condition that causes narrowing and hardening of your arteries. Coronary heart disease may be caused due to high cholesterol and the supply of blood and oxygen to your heart may also be disrupted.

Heart attack caused due to high levels of LDL in the blood occurs when your blood is insufficiently supplied to your heart muscles. This happens when the way to your heart muscle is blocked because of a clot in the coronary artery, causing the muscle to die. This blockage may lead to chest pain or angina and other cardiovascular conditions like heart diseasesor even diseases of the blood vessels. Discomfort may arise due to chest pain and this can lead to a heart attack..

When your brain does not get sufficient blood, it may result in a mini-stroke when a blood clot may block an artery thus interfering with the blood flow. A blood vessel may break down resulting in a stroke. High levels of low density lipoproteins may also cause brain cells to die.

Available treatment

The good news in store is that high cholesterol is treatable. So you should pay immediate heed to the diet that you are taking if you want to curb the damage that can be brought on by high levels of low density lipoproteins. A combination of lifestyle changes and effective treatment is the best way to treat cholesterol. The main purpose of treating cholesterol is to lower the level of LDL and increase the amount of HDL in your blood.

Physical activity should be included in your daily routine along with watching your diet. You should consume foods that are not high in saturated fat and include physical activity of minimum 45 minutes in your daily routine. The wholesome combination of a proper diet, physical activity and prescribed medications will make a huge difference to the cholesterol level your body carries.

Prescription medicines for cholesterol are the ones which belong to the group of medicines called ‘statins’. Simvastatin, Atorvastatin and Rosuvastatin are the medications that are recommended by doctors to lower your cholesterol levels. Statins are generally reliable when it comes to treating cholesterol but in severe cases something like Ezetrol can be taken along side statin medications.

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