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Your liver produces a waxy, fat-like material called blood cholesterol. Good health requires a healthy level of blood cholesterol. Although it is necessary for your body to make hormones and digest fatty meals, too much cholesterol may be hazardous.
Atherosclerosis is a disorder where plaque builds up in your arteries, narrowing them and making it harder for blood to circulate. Excessive cholesterol can cause this illness. Your risk of heart attacks and strokes may rise as a result.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are two different forms of cholesterol. The “bad” cholesterol, LDL, can accumulate in your arteries and create issues. The “good” cholesterol, HDL, assists in the removal of “bad” cholesterol, LDL, from your arteries.
Your body uses triglycerides, a kind of blood fat, as fuel. If you have high triglyceride levels together with either low HDL cholesterol level or high LDL cholesterol level, your risk of heart attack and stroke may increase.
Your blood’s total cholesterol level is determined by the amounts of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides present. (3)
Causes of High Cholesterol Levels
The following health issues might result in abnormal cholesterol levels:
- Long-term kidney disease
- Obesity (4)
A disturbance in cholesterol levels may also stem from some medications you might be taking for various health issues, such as:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeats
- Transplantation of organs (4)
Symptoms of High Cholesterol Levels
A high cholesterol level does not show any symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect it. However, familial hypercholesterolemia typically shows symptoms such as bumps on the skin. (5)
If you have not had a cholesterol test in the last 5 years, it may be a good idea to get it tested. People with diabetes, hypertension, and thyroid disorders must do yearly checkups.
Medical Diagnosis and Treatment for High Cholesterol Levels
You can have your cholesterol levels tested with a simple blood test. A blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile, which measures cholesterol levels, frequently reveals:
- Overall cholesterol level
- LDL cholesterol level
- HDL cholesterol level
- Triglyceride (a form of fat present in the blood) level
Usually, you have to fast for 9–12 hours before the test, drinking only water. (6) While certain cholesterol tests don’t need fasting, heed your doctor’s advice.
Your test results will be used by your doctor to assess if you have high cholesterol levels and whether you require treatment. The usual course of treatment for high cholesterol levels involves both medicine and lifestyle modifications. (6)(7)
Risk Factors for High Cholesterol Levels
Risk factors are those that can increase your chances of developing high cholesterol levels and include a poor diet, obesity, age, lack of exercise, and smoking. (5)
Age and genetics are risk factors that you cannot control, but smoking is one that you can. Your blood vessels are harmed by smoking, which increases the likelihood of fatty deposits accumulating in them. HDL cholesterol levels may be decreased by smoking.
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an inherited hereditary disorder that affects certain people. This condition causes abnormally high concentrations of LDL cholesterol to start developing at a young age and to deteriorate with age if ignored. It is estimated that 1 in 313 individuals worldwide have familial hypercholesterolemia. (6)
Consuming a diet rich in trans and saturated fats might increase your chances of having high cholesterol levels. Obesity is a result of eating meals late.
Obesity is linked to increased triglyceride levels, elevated LDL cholesterol levels, and decreased HDL cholesterol levels. Many lifestyle diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and heart disease can all be caused by obesity.
It is a good idea to get routinely tested for high cholesterol levels, especially if you have a family history. Only a routine blood test is needed, and it may be wise to regularly get it to prevent future complications.