Cholesterol is a type of fat present in the blood in small quantities. It forms a part of the cell walls, nerve coverings and brain cells. So it has an important function in the body. As per density, cholesterol has been classified into high density cholesterol, low density cholesterol and very low density cholesterol. While high density cholesterol is supposed to be cardio-protective, low density cholesterol and very low density cholesterol may cause coronary blockages if present in excess quantities. Having excess cholesterol in the body is called hypercholesterolemia in medical terms.
Causes of High Cholesterol
In majority of cases, fatty, high calorie diet and obesity are responsible for increase in cholesterol. High level of saturated fats found in meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, fried and processed foods are blamed for increased cholesterol levels. In some cases genetic factors may also be responsible for high level of cholesterol in individuals. High cholesterol is also linked with people who drink excessive alcohol and smoke regularly. Also, lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain resulting in increased LDL level and reduction of HDL leading to elevated total cholesterol levels
Symptoms of High cholesterol
High cholesterol typically doesn’t cause any symptoms. In most cases it only causes emergency events. For instance, a heart attack or stroke can result from the damage caused by high cholesterol.
These events typically don’t occur until high cholesterol leads to the formation of plaque in your arteries. Plaque can narrow arteries so less blood can pass through. The formation of plaque changes the makeup of your arterial lining. This could lead to serious complications.
A blood test is the only way to know if your cholesterol is too high. This means having a total blood cholesterol level above 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Ask your doctor to give you a cholesterol test after you turn 20 years old. Then get your cholesterol rechecked every 4 to 6 years.
Your doctor may also suggest you have your cholesterol checked more frequently if you have a family history of high cholesterol. Or if you demonstrate the following risk factors:
- have high blood pressure
- are overweight