High cholesterol is quite a common medical condition among people, and it is increasing every year. Almost 50% of people of age 50 and above are suffering from high cholesterol. The dangerous part about this issue is that it exists without any visible symptoms. And thus, often remain undiagnosed.
You won’t be able to determine its presence until you go for a cholesterol test. High cholesterol is a major health issue, and it can lead to other severe medical conditions such as heart disease, coronary artery disease, and high blood pressure. etc.
Read this article to learn about high cholesterol and its causes.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is important for the normal functioning of the body. It is also called lipid and is determined by cholesterol tests. Vitamin D, cell membranes and hormones are formed by our body using cholesterol. Our body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells. However, high levels of cholesterol can increase the risk of artery diseases.
There are 2 main sources of cholesterol in our blood:
- Cholesterol produced by the liver
- Cholesterol in the food we eat
Cholesterol is carried by the protein present in the blood. When both of them combine they form lipoprotein. There are two types of lipoprotein: High-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein. You can learn about the amount in the blood by getting a cholesterol test done.
High-density lipoprotein or HDL is responsible for carrying away the cholesterol away from the blood cells and back to the liver. From the liver, the cholesterol is broken down or passed out of the body as waste. Thus, the high density of lipoprotein is regarded as good cholesterol and their higher level indicates good health. Cholesterol tests can detect the percentage of HDL in the blood.
Low-density lipoprotein or LDL is responsible for carrying the cholesterol to the cells that need them. When the amount of cholesterol increases in the cells it starts accumulating in the walls of the artery leading to artery disease. Thus, low-density lipoprotein is regarded as bad cholesterol and its higher level indicates heart disease. You can get a cholesterol test done to know the amount of LDL in your blood.
The amount of cholesterol in the blood is measured by a cholesterol blood test. High cholesterol does not cause any such symptoms in the body but leads to other diseases.
What is high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is a medical condition in which the amount of low-density lipoprotein increases in the blood. This condition in medical terms is known as hyperlipidemia or hypercholesterolemia. This is determined by a cholesterol test done at the laboratory.
Our body does indeed need cholesterol to build healthy cells but when its amount increases more than required, it starts depositing in the walls of the artery which eventually restricts the flow of blood. Moreover, it combines with other substances present in the blood and from plaque also called fatty deposits.
This plaque remains undetected for years until it becomes big enough to affect the other organs of the body and cause other medical issues such as high blood pressure which shows visible symptoms. Therefore, untreated high cholesterol is very dangerous. You should get a cholesterol test done at least once after 40 years.
Sometimes these accumulating lipids suddenly break and form clots which eventually lead to stroke or heart attack. This medical condition is hereditary i.e., it is passed on from one generation to another. However, unhealthy lifestyles, poor eating habits, and lack of physical activity can also trigger this.
You must go for a cholesterol blood test to determine the amount of HDL and LDL in your blood.
Causes of high cholesterol
The primary reason behind high cholesterol is genetics and poor lifestyle. However, there are other factors as well. Cholesterol blood tests are important to detect the presence of high cholesterol in the blood. Here are the factors that trigger the amount of high cholesterol:
Tobacco and Smoking:
Smoking reduces the amount of high-density lipoprotein in our blood and thus leads to increases in low-density lipoprotein. The rise in bad cholesterol leads to heart disease.
These days life has become quite stressful for everyone. The constantly evolving competitive work culture is putting stress on people which is ultimately triggering hormonal changes in the body. These hormonal changes further lead to the production of bad cholesterol.
Drinking too much alcohol can also lead to an increase in bad cholesterol in the body.
Lack of physical activity:
Digitization, technology intervention and work-from-home culture have all reduced the frequency of physical activity. Exercises like yoga, aerobics, dance etc. increase the amount of good cholesterol in our blood and reduce the bad cholesterol. If you have a desk job which doesn’t allow you to move much, then your body won’t produce good cholesterol.
Our body is 90% impacted by what we eat. There are certain food items and ingredients that lead to an increase in bad cholesterol while some foods reduce the amount of bad cholesterol. In case of a rise in LDL, doctors often recommend dietary changes along with medications.
High cholesterol is a serious medical condition that needs immediate action. You might not be able to see any visible symptoms in your body despite having high cholesterol until you get a cholesterol blood test done.
But in the long run, it severely impacts the other organs of the body majorly the heart and arteries. Thus, it’s recommended to get a cholesterol test done if you have a family history of cholesterol after 30 years of age. If detected timely it can be treated with lifestyle changes and medications.