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Watch Video: Recognize the Symptoms and Dangers of High Cholesterol to Protect Your Heart

by Dr. Shruthi R
Watch Video: Recognize the Symptoms and Dangers of High Cholesterol to Protect Your Heart

High Cholesterol Symptoms: Increase in bad cholesterol in the body means danger to your heart. Preventing bad cholesterol is very important for health. Otherwise, it can be dangerous for your heart health. Bad cholesterol can cause heart attack.

High cholesterol, particularly an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, is a significant risk factor for heart disease. When LDL cholesterol levels rise in the body, it poses a serious threat to cardiovascular health. Here’s a comprehensive overview of the symptoms, risks, and preventive measures associated with high cholesterol.

Understanding Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all the cells of your body. It is essential for the production of hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help digest foods. However, there are two types of cholesterol:

  1. Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL): Known as “bad” cholesterol because high levels can lead to plaque buildup in arteries and result in heart disease and stroke.
  2. High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL): Known as “good” cholesterol because it helps remove other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream.

Symptoms of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol itself does not cause any symptoms. It is often referred to as a “silent” condition because it doesn’t present obvious symptoms until it causes a serious problem. However, high cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, a dangerous accumulation of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls of your arteries. These deposits (plaques) can reduce blood flow through your arteries, which can cause:

  • Chest Pain (Angina): This occurs when the arteries that supply your heart with blood (coronary arteries) are affected.
  • Heart Attack: If plaques tear or rupture, a blood clot can form at the plaque-rupture site—blocking the flow of blood or breaking free and plugging an artery downstream. If blood flow to part of your heart stops, you’ll have a heart attack.
  • Stroke: Similar to a heart attack, a stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to part of your brain.

Risk Factors for High Cholesterol

Several factors can increase your risk of high cholesterol:

  • Poor Diet: Consuming saturated fats, trans fats, and high cholesterol foods can raise your cholesterol level.
  • Obesity: A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher puts you at risk.
  • Lack of Exercise: Exercise helps boost your body’s HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them more likely to accumulate fatty deposits. Smoking might also lower your HDL cholesterol.
  • Diabetes: High blood sugar contributes to higher LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. High blood sugar also damages the lining of your arteries.

Preventing High Cholesterol

Prevention is crucial in managing cholesterol levels and maintaining heart health. Here are some strategies to help prevent high cholesterol:

  1. Adopt a Heart-Healthy Diet:
    • Reduce Saturated Fats: Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, increase your total cholesterol. Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your LDL cholesterol.
    • Eliminate Trans Fats: Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” are often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers, and cakes. Trans fats raise overall cholesterol levels. The FDA has banned the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils by January 1, 2021.
    • Eat Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL cholesterol. They have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
    • Increase Soluble Fiber: Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples, and pears.
    • Add Whey Protein: Whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure.
  2. Exercise Regularly: Physical activity can help raise HDL cholesterol. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week. Adding physical activity, even in short intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight. Consider:
    • Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour.
    • Riding your bike to work.
    • Playing a favorite sport.
  3. Quit Smoking: Quitting smoking improves your HDL cholesterol level. The benefits occur quickly: within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike. Within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve. Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.
  4. Lose Weight: Carrying even a few extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. Small changes add up. If you drink sugary beverages, switch to tap water. Snack on air-popped popcorn or pretzels—but keep track of the calories. If you crave something sweet, try sherbet or candies with little or no fat, such as jelly beans.
  5. Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol—but the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t already drink. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

By taking these preventive measures, you can maintain healthy cholesterol levels and protect your heart health. Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help monitor your cholesterol and adjust your health plan as necessary to keep your heart strong and healthy.

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