What is High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance present in the cells of our body. It plays a crucial role in hormone production, fat digestion, and cell membrane formation. However, having high levels of cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to build in your blood vessels, which increases your risk of heart problems and stroke.
Types of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is classified into two main types based on the proteins that carry it in the bloodstream:
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol:
- LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol
- It carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells throughout the body
- When LDL cholesterol levels are high, it can lead to the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol:
- HDL cholesterol is commonly known as “good” cholesterol
- It collects excess cholesterol from the body’s tissues and arteries, transporting it back to the liver for processing and elimination
- Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a lower risk of heart disease
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
There are usually no symptoms of high cholesterol, meaning it can often go undetected until it’s too late. It’s important to get your blood tested to detect whether or not you have it.
In addition to getting your blood tested, you should also be aware of the potential causes of high cholesterol to see if you’re at risk of developing it.
Causes of High Cholesterol
There are many different causes of high cholesterol, some of which you can control and adapt your lifestyle to avoid, and some you can’t.
Lifestyle Risk Factors:
- Consuming an unhealthy diet: eating too much saturated fat can reduce the liver’s ability to remove cholesterol, causing it to increase
- Not exercising enough: being more active increases your body’s levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, while reducing the ‘bad’ cholesterol
- Smoking: Smoking can increase your levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and leads to the build up of tar in your arteries, which makes it easier for cholesterol to stick to your artery walls and potentially cause a blockage.
Other Risk Factors
While certain causes of high cholesterol can be modified through lifestyle changes, there are factors that may contribute to high cholesterol levels that are beyond our control. These include:
Age and Gender:
- Cholesterol levels tend to rise naturally as we age
- Men generally have higher cholesterol levels than women
Genetics and Family History:
- Inherited genetic conditions, such as familial hypercholesterolemia, can cause high cholesterol
- If your parents or close relatives have high cholesterol, you may have an increased risk
Underlying Medical Conditions:
- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
Treatment for High Cholesterol
When it comes to managing high cholesterol, making lifestyle changes is usually the first step.
This includes adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight.
However, in some cases, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to effectively lower cholesterol levels. In such situations, your doctor may prescribe medication such as atorvastatin to help reduce high cholesterol levels.
Reduce Your Cholesterol with Healthera
If you have recently been diagnosed with high cholesterol and your doctor has prescribed treatment, you can use your Healthera app to place your prescription order online for collection or home delivery.
You can also use the app to set accurate medicine alarms that’ll notify you when it’s time to take your medication, so you never miss another dose again.
To get started, simply click the button below to download or open your Healthera app: