High blood cholesterol is a condition caused by a higher level of bad cholesterol in the blood. Bad cholesterols, also known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) helps to transfer cholesterol particles to the cells.
An increase in the level of LDL causes blockage in the arteries by forming a plaque. The blockages in the arteries, plaques make the arteries rigid and narrow.
This may cause an uneven blood flow through the arteries resulting in increased blood pressure. An increase in blood pressure may result in a heart attack.
A person suffering from high blood cholesterol does not show any signs making it difficult to find out until complications are seen. The complications of high blood cholesterol include severe chest pain, mild stroke, and heart attack.
The complications of high cholesterol are life-threatening and may result in the death of the patient. Thus it is also known as a silent killer.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a substance in our body and in some types of foods we eat such as meat and eggs. Our body needs cholesterol in order to;
- produce hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, adrenal, cortisol(stress hormone), etc,
- build the cell membrane structure,
- make substances that help in the digestion process,
- aids the liver in making bile acids that helps to breakdown fats and absorb vital nutrients.
What are Bad and Good Cholesterols?
- Low-density lipoprotein or LDL is sometimes called bad cholesterol mainly because a higher amount of LDL causes artery-clogging plaque (artery blockages) that results in high blood cholesterol.
- High-density lipoprotein or HDL is sometimes called good cholesterol because it aids in cleansing the blood by taking excess cholesterol back to the liver for destruction.
What Causes High Blood Cholesterol?
Living an unhealthy lifestyle is one of the major causes of high blood cholesterol. It includes factors such as unhealthy diet, inactivity, smoking, etc.
Eating diets rich in bad fats (saturated and trans fat) contributes to an increased level of LDL (bad cholesterol) leading to high blood cholesterol. Saturated fat is mostly found in meat, processed foods, bakery items, chocolates, etc. Trans fat is mainly found in processed foods, cookies, deep-fried foods, etc.
Eating too much of foods that are processed or deep-fried and are rich in meat content increases your chances of developing high blood cholesterol. Furthermore, eating spicy junk foods and fast foods for most of your meals also increases your chances of developing high blood cholesterol levels.
The way we live is changing drastically and the way we used to work is also changing. Our lives are highly automated in the sense that we need to work manually no more. Everything is automated and all we have to do is sit and use our brain most of the time which in this case is the worst thing to do.
If you have a job that keeps you seated 10-5, five days a week without any physical movements, your risk of developing high blood cholesterol is significantly high.
Sitting through the day without any physical movements and exercises increases the bad cholesterol level while lowering the good cholesterol level at the same time.
If you are someone who likes to smoke a lot or is someone who smokes when upset, I have bad news for you. The chemical substance found in the cigarette is known to raise the level of bad cholesterol levels and blood fat called triglycerides.
Triglycerides may cause a waxy plaque to build up in the arteries leading to artery blockades. Furthermore, smoking also lowers the good cholesterol level in your body which is more bad news.
Genes aren’t something you can change and there are times when a person is born with a bad gene. Studies suggest that bad genes may also contribute to high blood cholesterol in some people.
It is mainly due to the passing of bad genes from one generation to another. For example, a defect in chromosome 19 may result in a condition where your cells are unable to remove LDL or bad cholesterol. This condition is known as familial hypercholesterolemia.
High Blood Cholesterol Risk Factors
The following factors may increase your risk of high blood cholesterol.
Poor Diet Choice:
The choices you make regarding your diet plan plays an important role in determining your health. If you choose a healthy diet plan for yourself to eat every day, the chances of you suffering from diseases and illnesses will be significantly lower.
But if you decide on eating whatever you see fit and neglect the nutritional need of your body, the chances of you developing all kinds of diseases and illnesses will be significantly higher. It is true for high blood cholesterol levels as well.
Eating too much meat for food and neglecting on green veggies and fruits increase your risk of developing high blood cholesterol. When you eat more meat, your fat intake increases since meat packs a lot of saturated fat in it.
The increased amount of saturated fat causes cholesterol to build up in the arteries. Furthermore, it also increases the bad cholesterol level increases your risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart attack, stroke, etc.
Age is not just a number when it comes to your health. It can act as a deciding factor in developing many diseases and complications. There is no harm in saying that things get tough as you age or grow old.
Your body stops functioning properly and loses its efficiency much like a machine that loses its functionality over time. And when that happens, there’s nothing more you can do to completely change the table in your favor.
All you can do now is work on the maintenance of your body function as much as possible. Even so, it is not enough to stay from harm’s way. Your defense mechanism gets dull and is overpowered by the enemy army over time.
Your health which you prize so much is soon taken hostage by the enemy army and you are left vulnerable and helpless. A lot of enemy army namely high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, blood sugar, etc. will take over your body one at a time or combined sometimes.
Obesity is measured in terms of body mass index (BMI). A BMI score of 30 or more makes you obese meaning unhealthy. Unhealthy in the sense that your body no more can function the way it was designed to or supposed to function.
If you are wondering how here’s something that might enlighten you on the matter. Obesity is the measure of your body to fat which you’ve achieved over time. It is however not an achievement that one should be proud of.
It is something that we often refer to as “Bad achievement” which is fairly easy to get your hands on. But will leave a negative mark on your career graph.
The higher amount of fat deposits within your body, especially your arteries increases your chances of developing high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, etc.
It is important that you work your body out every once in a while if not every day. Physical activities such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing, yoga, playing outdoor games, etc. help to keep your body hormones checked.
Hormones play an important role in the proper functioning of your body. It also makes for the heavy calories that you intake from eating your favorite junk and processed foods. These foods include sugary drinks and beverages, fast foods, dairy products, etc.
Such foods are practically loaded with calories and may easily make you eat past the recommended daily calorie limit. It is one way of accumulating body fat and fat as you might have known can make you overweight or obese.
While giving your body a proper rest every day is important for optimum health, it is also important to work out your body to stay healthy. So, if you are someone who happens to sit or sleep a lot, the chances of you developing high blood cholesterol are significantly high.
High Blood Sugar Levels:
According to a report published by American Herat Association (AHA), diabetes often leads to a decrease in the good HDL cholesterol level and an increase in the bad VLDL cholesterol level.So, if you are someone who happens to be a diabetic patient, chances are you will have a greater risk of developing high blood cholesterol levels.
It is however not the case every time but you still need to look out for your cholesterol level if you are diabetic. Since it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Smoking might give you temporary relief from your stress at most. Yet your decision to smoke might as well invite trouble for you. Smoking cigarettes doesn’t just cause cancer as you might have seen in slogans. It might as well become the cause of you developing high blood cholesterol levels.
The chemicals that you inhale while smoking is highly toxic and promotes bad LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. Furthermore, it also promotes bad fat called triglycerides which increases your chance of developing heart diseases due to artery blockages.
While no ethnic group or race is immune to developing high blood cholesterol levels, some ethnic groups and races are more at risk of developing it than others.
Studies over the years suggest that certain races are more at risk than others in developing high cholesterol levels. The Mexican American men, for example, have the highest incidence of having higher LDL cholesterol levels.
Similarly, non-Hispanic black men have the second-highest incidence of having higher LDL cholesterol levels. So, it would be fair enough to say that some ethnic groups and races have a higher chance of developing high blood cholesterol levels.
You don’t just always inherit the riches and fortunes of your family. Sometimes, you might as well find yourself inheriting the misfortunes and weaknesses of your family tree.
And in this case, you might inherit some bad genes from your family tree. One that is more susceptible to developing diseases and illnesses.
High blood cholesterol may run in some families. If you happen to come from such a family, you have a higher risk of having high cholesterol levels as well.
High Blood Cholesterol Complications
Following are the complications that may occur due to high blood cholesterol:
A partial or complete blockage in the coronary arteries may result in severe chest pain. Here’s how.
A heart attack occurs in a similar fashion as chest pain. An increase in blood cholesterol levels in the blood causes blockage in the arteries due to the formation of plaques in the arteries wall.
The Plaques in the arteries eventually break apart and may form a clot. The clot hampers the natural flow of the blood and may damage or destroy a part of the heart muscle causing a heart attack.
If the plaque is formed in other arteries namely the internal carotid artery, this can lead to lead to an interruption in the blood supply to the brain.
The brain tissues lack oxygen and other nutrients that cause blood cells to die causing a stroke.
Some other medical conditions that may occur due to high blood cholesterol such as;
- Overweight and obesity
- High blood pressure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Hypothyroidism, etc.
How to Prevent High Blood Cholesterol?
AS the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”, it is best that you aim to prevent high cholesterol levels than to seek medication afterward.
Following thing can be done to prevent high cholesterol levels before things get out of hand:
- Reduce the intake of saturated fat.
- Avoid trans fat in your diet.
- Eat more fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
- Include foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
- Lose excess body fat.
- Exercise at least for half an hour to an hour daily.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes.
- Add whey protein in your diet.
High blood cholesterol mainly occurs due to the higher consumption of meat. Eating meat regularly or at a large quantity increases the amount of saturated fat intake in our body.
An increased amount of saturated fat in our body leads to an increase in the number of bad LDL cholesterol in the body. The bad LDL cholesterol causes cholesterol to rise in the bloodstream.
So if you want to lower your chances of having high blood cholesterol, it important that you lower your meat consumption by introducing more veggies and fruits in your diet.
You might as well eat more fatty fishes instead of meat. Since fish are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which help to keep your blood cholesterol checked.
Another way of keeping your cholesterol level checked is by going on a strictly plant-based diet.
Going on a plant-based diet will not only lower your chances of suffering from high blood cholesterol but will also lower your chances of suffering from diseases such as heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, etc.