Having a high percentage of cholesterol in the body endangers the heart as it increases the risk of developing heart diseases and also coming down with stroke. Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally. It was estimated that about 17.3 million people died from Cardiovascular disease of which 6.2million and 7.3 million were from stroke and coronary heart disease respectively in 2008.
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High cholesterol is very rare in infants and children but more common in people that are 18 years and above. Older adults are at more risk of having high cholesterol in the body. Due to its danger, and its high impact on the world, at last, it is important to get rid of it.
In this post, you will learn the meaning of high cholesterol, the types, causes, symptoms, risks, prevention, and some natural remedies for high cholesterol. So grab a sit and enjoy!
What Is High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol is also known as hypercholesterolemia or hyperlipidemia. It is defined as an abnormal increase in the blood’s lipid/fatty level.
When there is a normal level of cholesterol in the body, the body functions properly. Normal cholesterol helps the body to produce cell membranes, helps in the synthesis of vitamin D in the body and helps in the production of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, etc.
A person has a normal level of cholesterol when the amount of cholesterol present in the blood is less than 200mg/dl. A person has borderline high cholesterol when the amount of cholesterol present in the blood is between 200 – 239mg/dl. Therefore, for a person to have high cholesterol, the person has a blood cholesterol level of 240mg/dl and above.
Types Of High Cholesterol
The following are the types of cholesterol in the blood:
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
This is also known as bad cholesterol. It makes up a larger percentage of the total cholesterol present in the body. It is called bad cholesterol because too much is dangerous for the heart. This is because it collects in the walls of the heart vessels, thereby clogging and narrowing them. This limits the flow of blood in the arterial wall. This cholesterol can build up in the arterial wall, a condition known as arteriosclerosis, and cause blockage. When there is a blockage, it inhibits the flow of blood within the blood vessels of the heart. This can lead to chest pain, a condition known as angina, or lead to a heart attack.
A person has a normal level of LDL when the amount of LDL present in the blood is less than 100mg/dl. A person has a near to optimal LDL when the amount of LDL present in the blood is between 100-129mg/dl. A person has a borderline high LDL when the amount of LDL present in the blood is between 130-159mg/dl. A person has a high LDL when the amount of LDL present in the blood is between 160-189mg/dl. Anything above this is a dangerously high LDL.
This is also known as good cholesterol. It makes up the lower percentage of the total cholesterol present in the body. It is called good cholesterol because it limits the risk of coming down with stroke or cardiovascular diseases. It does this by taking the excess bad cholesterol away from the blood and down to the liver. In the liver, this excess cholesterol is broken down and flushed out of the body. The lower the high-density lipoprotein in the blood, the higher the risk of having cardiovascular disease, and the higher the high-density lipoprotein in the blood, the lower the risk of having cardiovascular disease.
A person is at risk when the HDL present in the blood is less than 40mg/dl in males, and 50mg/dl in females. A normal HDL is when the HDL present in the blood is above 60mg/dl for both males and females.
Causes of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol in the blood can either be genetic or due to a poor lifestyle.
Having high cholesterol can be genetic. This means that a person can be born with high cholesterol levels, a condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia. This condition allows the blood to absorb low-density lipoprotein even when the correct lifestyle and weight are being maintained.
In the blood, there is a protein known as the Low-Density Lipoprotein receptor (LDL receptor). This receptor helps in regulating the amount of cholesterol in the blood. They are found mostly in the liver and help in removing excess cholesterol from the body. In the case of familial hypercholesterolemia, this protein does not perform its function making it a very dangerous condition but if given immediate and appropriate treatment, it can be managed.
Poor lifestyle is the most common cause of high cholesterol. When you practice unhealthy habits, they can increase your risk of having high cholesterol.
The following are the risk factors for high cholesterol that are due to a poor or unhealthy lifestyle.
Obesity is one of the risk factors for high cholesterol. Having excess body weight increases the Low-density lipoprotein present in the blood and reduces the high-density lipoprotein.
When a person consumes alcohol, it is broken down in the body and converted to cholesterol. This in turn raises the level of cholesterol present in the body.
Age is also a risk factor for high cholesterol. Older adults are at more risk of having high cholesterol than young adults.
Unhealthy eating is one of the major factors by which cholesterol levels can be raised. Diets that are rich in saturated fats raise the blood’s cholesterol level. Some of them include red meat, cheese, fried foods, cookies, butter, etc. When you don’t consume them in low quantities occasionally, they cause cholesterol buildup.
Smoking is a popular risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A study shows that one-third of people died from cardiovascular disease as a result of smoking. Smoking can either be active or passive. This means those who smoke, and secondhand smokers (those that breathe in smoke) have a high risk of high cholesterol. Smoking damages the arterial wall and cholesterol builds up in this area. It also makes cholesterol stick more to the arterial wall.
Stress can also cause the body to produce bad cholesterol. When you are stressed and you are not resting, certain hormones can be stimulated that aid in the production of cholesterol.
Inactive and sedentary living increases the risk of having high cholesterol. When you sit in a place most times without moving or performing physical activities, your body begins to accumulate bad cholesterol and reduces the good cholesterol in the body.
Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
There is no visible symptom when you have high cholesterol. You can’t see with your eyes that you have high cholesterol. It can only be discovered by carrying out a blood test. This is why it is important to go for routine check-ups to know your status.
Complications of High Cholesterol
The following are some of the complications of high cholesterol:
- Chest Pain
- Heart Attack
- Heart failure
- Coronary Artery Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Peripheral Artery Disease
- Carotid Artery Disease
Preventions of High Cholesterol
It is important to quit smoking totally, and also prevent breathing in smoke. When you quit smoking, your arterial wall will dislodge cholesterol buildup, and your bad cholesterol will be flushed out. It will then enable the increase of good cholesterol in your blood. This in turn will prevent high cholesterol and other related heart conditions.
It is good to eat healthy food and stop eating foods that are high in fat. Eat more fruits and vegetables as these foods help to reduce your good cholesterol. Eating Omega-3 fish also helps the body from absorbing bad cholesterol.
It is important to exercise the body. The more you exercise, the more bad cholesterol is expelled from the body. Exercising your body helps to raise the amount of good cholesterol in the body, and removes bad cholesterol. Exercising is a very efficient way of keeping your overall body healthy. It is very important to living and prevents various conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, muscle weakness, etc from developing.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
It is advisable to quit the consumption of alcohol but if you cannot, it is important to limit your intake. Excessive consumption of alcohol causes an increase in the level of cholesterol consumption and poses threat to the arterial wall. It may cause other conditions such as obesity, cardiomyopathy, stroke, cirrhosis of the liver, etc. To prevent these from happening, it is necessary to cut down your alcohol intake.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Keeping watch of your weight helps to maintain a healthy weight. Being obese increases the risk of having high cholesterol. You can keep watch of your body weight by calculating your BMI. This can be gotten by dividing your weight by the square of your height. I.e
BMI = Body weight(kg) / Height(m)^2
The normal BMI is between 18.5 – 24.9. Anything below that is underweight, and anything above that is overweight. If your BMI is 30 and above, that is an indication that you are obese.
Natural Remedies For High Cholesterol
The following are the natural remedies for high cholesterol:
Garlic has been shown in various studies to be very useful in the reduction of cholesterol levels in the body. Garlic helps in reducing low-density lipoprotein and enhances the increase of high-density lipoprotein. It also aids in metabolism and fastens digestion. This quality makes it reduces stored fat and helps reduce weight. This in turn reduces high cholesterol.
Tumeric contains curcumin which helps to reduce cholesterol in the body and also helps to dislodge cholesterol that is built up in the arterial wall. Tumeric helps to block the production of cholesterol in the liver. It also helps to prevent its absorption in the gut. Due to these benefits, Tumeric is an effective way of getting rid of high cholesterol in the blood.
Ginger also helps to reduce fat and low-density lipoprotein in the body. Ginger can also treat other conditions like diabetes, strokes, heart conditions, and so on. Ginger can therefore be used in the treatment of high cholesterol.
Soluble fibers can help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the blood. They attach to these cholesterols and help to eliminate them. This causes the reduction of cholesterol in the body. Examples of soluble fibers are avocados, oats, legumes, etc.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also one of the ways by which high cholesterol can be reduced. Due to its natural antioxidants known as polyphenols, they reduce low-density lipoprotein and increase high-density lipoprotein, which reduces overall high cholesterol.
Consuming green tea can also be used to get rid of bad cholesterol in the body. Green tea contains an antioxidant known as catechins, which helps to reduce high cholesterol levels.
Physical exercise cannot be overemphasized in reducing your blood cholesterol level. According to the Center For Disease Control, you should have 150 minutes of exercise or physical activity each week. Examples of aerobics exercises that can reduce your blood cholesterol level are Brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, etc.
It is important to go for routine check-ups to see if there is anything you need to attend to. If you find out you have an increase in cholesterol level early, it saves you from the complications associated with it. The above measures alongside your doctor’s prescription should lower your cholesterol level. However, if the natural remedies for high cholesterol do not reduce your cholesterol level, it is important to report it to your doctor.
What Medications Can Minimize the Risk of High Cholesterol?
Statins, also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, are among the most common prescription medications used to reduce cholesterol levels in patients with hypercholesterolemia (elevated cholesterol) or high LDL cholesterol. Statins work by decreasing the amount of “good” cholesterol ( HDL cholesterol) and “bad” cholesterol ( LDL cholesterol) in the blood.
Can Herbs Maintain Cholesterol Levels?
Yes, herbs like garlic, Hawthorne, Hawthorne berry, bilberry, ginkgo biloba, buckwheat, and flaxseeds help maintain cholesterol levels.
What Foods to Avoid and Intake for Good Cholesterol Levels?
Foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars usually contain more calories than necessary. Overeating can lead to weight gain, which, in turn, increases the risk of developing heart disease. Whereas, Healthy diets, stress, exercise, and sleeping on time can reduce bad cholesterol levels and raise good cholesterol levels.
The information contained in this post is for educational purposes only. Always consult your primary care doctor before using the remedies that are provided. The information is provided by The Hidden Cures and while we do timely, in-depth research on the information that we provide to you, everything stated may not be up to date or accurate from the time it was written.