When too much of the fatty molecule known as cholesterol is in your blood, you have high cholesterol.

High Cholesterol is primarily brought on by consuming fatty foods, failing to exercise regularly, being overweight, smoking, and using alcohol. Moreover, it can run in families.

You can reduce cholesterol by consuming a healthy diet and increasing physical activity. Some folks also require medication.

Your blood arteries may become clogged by too much cholesterol. It increases your risk of developing heart issues or having a stroke.

Symptoms of high cholesterol do not exist. Only a blood test can determine or tell if you have it.

Too much cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease even though your body requires it to build healthy cells.

Fatty deposits could form in your blood vessels if you have too much cholesterol. These accumulations thicken over time and reduce the amount of blood that can flow through your arteries. Sometimes these deposits might suddenly split and form a clot, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

High cholesterol is a condition that can run in families, but it is usually brought on by poor lifestyle choices, making it both treatable and avoidable. A good diet, frequent exercise, and medication may occasionally help lower high cholesterol.

High cholesterol is a condition that can run in families but is usually brought on by poor lifestyle choices, making it both treatable and avoidable. A good diet, frequent exercise, and medication may occasionally help lower high cholesterol.

Causes of high cholesterol:

Protein-bound cholesterol is transported via your bloodstream. A lipoprotein is a compound of proteins and cholesterol. According to the information that the lipoprotein conveys, there are many forms of cholesterol. As follows:

 

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The “bad” cholesterol LDL transports cholesterol metabolites throughout the body. A buildup of LDL cholesterol causes the walls of the arteries to stiffen and narrow.
  • HDL is high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Cheerful cholesterol Extra cholesterol is removed from your body by HDL and is then delivered to your liver.

A lipid profile frequently measures the type of blood fat known as triglycerides. High triglyceride levels may also raise your risk of developing heart disease. 

It would help if you controlled inactivity, obesity, and a poor diet that can affect unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Outside circumstances can also have a role. For example, your genes may make it more difficult for the liver to break down LDL cholesterol or for your body to remove it from your blood.

The following medical problems might result in abnormal cholesterol levels;

  • Long-term kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lupus

Some sorts of medications you might be taking for various health issues, such as;

  • Acne
  • Cancer
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Abnormal heartbeats
  • Transplantation of organs

Symptoms of high cholesterol:

No symptoms exist for high cholesterol. It is typically a “silent” disease. Usually, it doesn’t result in any symptoms. Before experiencing significant side effects like a heart attack or stroke, many people don’t even realize they have high cholesterol.

Regular cholesterol screening is crucial for this reason. Ask your doctor if you should undergo routine cholesterol screening if you are 20 or older. Find out how this screening may be able to save your life.

When to see a doctor:

A person’s initial cholesterol screening should occur between 9 and 11. After that, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends doing it again every five years (NHLBI).

The NHLBI recommends having a cholesterol test every one to two years for men and women between the ages of 45 and 65. People over 65 should have their cholesterol checked annually.

If your test results fall outside acceptable ranges, your doctor may suggest more frequent measures. Your doctor could recommend more frequent testing if there is a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or additional risk factors like diabetes or high blood pressure. 

Diagnosis of high cholesterol:

Lipid panel or lipid profile blood tests, which examine cholesterol levels, generally show;

  • Cholesterol overall
  • LDL cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol
  • Blood fat comes in the form of triglycerides.

Before the test, you must fast for nine to twelve hours, drinking just water. Follow your doctor’s recommendations, as specific cholesterol tests don’t require fasting.

Ranges of cholesterol:

Total cholesterol (the U.S. and some other countries) Total cholesterol* (Canada and most of Europe) Results
100 to 200 mg/dL  5.2 mmol/L or less Preferred
200–239 mg/dL 5.2–6.2 mmol/L Considered to be slightly high
higher than 240 mg/dL  higher than 6.2 mmol/L  High 

 

Lipoprotein LDL (the U.S. and some other countries) The LDL cholesterol (Canada and most of Europe) Results 
under 70 mg/dL 1.8 or less mmol/L Best for those with coronary artery disease, especially those with stents, coronary bypass surgery, angina, or a history of heart attacks.
less than 100mg/dL less than 2.6 mmol/L Ideal for people with diabetes and anyone at risk of coronary artery disease. For those with uncomplicated coronary artery disease, nearly ideal.
100-129 mg/dL 2.6-3.3 mmol/L Suppose there is no coronary artery disease, near optimum if coronary artery disease is present, very high.
130-159 mg/dL 3.4-4.1 mmol/L Borderline high if coronary artery disease is not present. Suppose coronary artery disease is current, very high.
160-189 mg/dL 4.1-4.9 mmol/L Suppose there is coronary artery disease, extremely high.
190 mg/dL or higher Above 4.9 mmol/L Extremely high, perhaps indicative of a hereditary disorder.

 

cholesterol HDL (the U.S. and some other countries) HDL cholesterol (Canada and most of Europe) Results 
Under 40 mg/dL (men) Sub-1.0 mmol/L (men) Poor
Under 50 mg/dL (women) 1.3 or less mmol/L (women) Poor
40-59 mg/dL (men) 1.0-1.5 mmol/L (men) Better
50-59 mg/dL (women) 1.3-1.5 mmol/L (women) Better
60 mg/dL or higher More than 1.5 mmol/L Best 

 

Triglycerides (the U.S. and several other nations) Triglycerides* (Canada and most of Europe) Results 
less than 150 mg/dL less than 1.7 mmol/L Desirable 
150-199 mg/dL 1.7-2.2 mmol/L Almost too high
200-499 mg/dL 2.3-5.6 mmol/L High
500 mg/dL or higher More than 5.6 mmol/L High

 

Cholesterol in children:

The majority of children between the ages of 9 and 11 should undergo a cholesterol screening test, which should be repeated every five years, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Suppose your child has a personal history of obesity or diabetes, a family history of early-onset heart disease, or both. In that case, your doctor may advise more frequent or earlier cholesterol testing.

Risk factors of high cholesterol:

The following factors might influence your chance of having abnormal cholesterol levels;

  • Poor diet. Unhealthy cholesterol levels can be caused by overeating saturated or trans-fat. Saturated fats can be found in full-fat dairy products. Trans fats can frequently be found in packaged desserts or snacks.
  • Obesity. People with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher are at risk of having high cholesterol.
  • Lack of exercise. The “good” cholesterol in your body, HDL, is increased by exercise.
  • Smoking. Smoking cigarettes may cause your HDL, or “good” cholesterol, to drop.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol consumption in excess might raise your total cholesterol level.
  • Age. Even young toddlers can have high cholesterol, although adults over 40 are far more likely to have it. The ability of your liver to eliminate LDL cholesterol declines with age.

Complications of high cholesterol:

High cholesterol can cause an unhealthy buildup of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls of your arteries (atherosclerosis). These buildups (plaques) could reduce blood flow through your arteries, which could result in problems such as;

  • Chest pain. If the arteries that supply or provide blood to your heart are damaged, you might get angina (chest discomfort) and other coronary artery disease symptoms.
  • Cardiac arrest. A blood clot may develop at the site of a plaque rupture or rip, blocking blood flow or rupturing and occluding an artery downstream. If the blood supply to a section of your heart is interrupted, a heart attack will result.
  • Stroke. A stroke occurs when similar to a heart attack; a blood clot blocks blood flow to a part of your brain.

Prevention of high cholesterol:

You can help prevent high cholesterol by making the same heart-healthy lifestyle changes to lower your cholesterol. To reduce your cholesterol, you can;

  • Consume a diet low in salt, focusing on fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains.
  • Use healthy fats sparingly and animal fats in moderation.
  • Get rid of extra weight and keep your weight in check
  • Stop smoking.
  • Engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
  • If you do drink alcohol, do so sparingly.
  • Reduce stress

Treatment of high cholesterol:

Changing one’s lifestyle by engaging in activities like exercise and good food is the first line of defense against high cholesterol. If you’ve made these significant lifestyle changes, but your cholesterol readings are still high, your doctor might recommend medication.

Several considerations, such as your risk factors, age, state of health, and probable drug side effects, can affect the choice of a drug or drug combination. Typical options consist of;

  • Statins. Statins block the chemical your liver needs to produce cholesterol. As a result, your liver filters the blood of cholesterol. You can choose from atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin, lovastatin, pitavastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, simvastatin, and Pravachol.
  • Inhibitors of cholesterol absorption. Your small intestine absorbs the cholesterol you eat and releases it into your blood. The drug ezetimibe (Zetia) decreases blood cholesterol levels by preventing the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Ezetimibe may be combined with a statin drug.
  • Acid bempedoic. Despite having a more recent mechanism of action than statins, this medicine is less likely to cause muscle discomfort. Increasing the maximum statin dosage with bempedoic acid (Nexletol) can dramatically reduce LDL. There is also a combination drug called Nexlizet that contains ezetimibe and bempedoic acid.
  • Bile acid-binding resins. Bile acids, a crucial element for digestion, are produced by the liver using cholesterol. Cholestyramine, colesevelam, and colestipol indirectly reduce cholesterol by attaching to bile acids. It reduces cholesterol levels in your blood by encouraging your liver to make more bile acids using the excess cholesterol.
  • PCSK9 inhibitors. These drugs can boost the liver’s LDL absorption capacity, lowering blood cholesterol levels. Using alirocumab and evolocumab may be advantageous for those with a hereditary condition that causes abnormally high LDL levels and those with a history of the coronary disease who are intolerant to statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications. Every couple of weeks, they are subcutaneously administered. They cost a lot and are pricey injections under the skin.

Medications for high cholesterol:

Your doctor might advise the following if you also have excessive triglycerides;

  • Fibrates. The drugs fenofibrate (Tricor, Fenoglide, and others) and gemfibrozil (Lopid) increase the elimination of triglycerides from your blood and decrease the synthesis of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol in your liver.
  • Niacin. Your liver’s capacity to manufacture LDL and VLDL cholesterol is constrained by niacin. Niacin, however, does not outperform statins in terms of benefits.
  • Supplements with omega-3 fatty acids. Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids can aid in triglyceride reduction. You can purchase them without a prescription or over the counter.

Lifestyle and home remedies:

You could lower your cholesterol by altering your lifestyle.

  • Take off the extra weight. Losing weight can help lower cholesterol. 
  • Consume heart-healthy foods. Emphasize plant-based foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Limit trans and saturated fats. A healthy alternative is a monounsaturated fat, which can be found in canola and olive oils. Additional sources of healthful fat include avocados, almonds, and fatty salmon.
  • Regular exercise Work up to at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week with your doctor’s approval.
  • Avoid smoking. Find a way to stop smoking if you smoke.

Children treatment:

Diet and exercise are the best starting treatments for children age two and older with high cholesterol or obesity. Extremely high cholesterol levels in children above ten may necessitate the prescription of statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

References:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-cholesterol/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/symptoms-causes/syc-20350800

https://www.healthline.com/health/high-cholesterol

https://familydoctor.org/condition/cholesterol/