Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is present in all body cells. It is vital for normal body functioning as the body needs it to make vitamin D, hormones, and other substances required for digestion. Your body naturally produces around 75% of the cholesterol it needs, with the rest coming from your diet. Excess cholesterol can lead to some serious health problems, with the typical causes given below.
- Bad eating habits. One of the major causes of elevated cholesterol in the body is eating foods that contain high levels of saturated fats. Foods that are rich in cholesterol and trans fats also play a role in increasing your cholesterol levels.
- Lack of exercise. If you are inactive and do not like exercising regularly, the levels of cholesterol in your body will significantly increase. Exercise helps to burn any excess fats in the body, and this helps reduce the cholesterol levels as well.
- Genetics. When it comes to elevated levels of cholesterol in your body, genetics has a role to play. Parents with high levels of cholesterol can pass genes down to their children, increasing their risk of high cholesterol. Genetic studies have shown there are specific genes that determine the processing of fats and cholesterol. If you are born to parents with elevated levels of cholesterol, you are at the risk of registering high levels too.
- Sometimes soaring cholesterol levels can be caused by familial hypercholesterolemia. Familial hypercholesterolemia is a genetic disorder that inhibits the body from eliminating LDL. Reports by the National Human Genome Research Institute indicate that individuals with this disorder have elevated cholesterol and LDL levels.
- Scientific research has also indicated that health conditions, such as hypothyroidism and diabetes, increase the possibility of high cholesterol levels.
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What can be done to manage high cholesterol levels?
Numerous interventions can help manage elevated cholesterol levels in the body. These include:
i. Regular exercise.
If you want to manage the soaring cholesterol levels in your body, the first step is to start exercising. Exercises increase your body metabolism, which helps burn the excess fats in your body, leading to lower cholesterol levels.
ii. Adopt a healthy diet.
Eating foods rich in saturated fats play a significant role in increasing cholesterol levels in your body. A healthy diet should include foods with low fats such as avocados, lean meats, nuts, and low-fat dairy. Avoid foods such as red meat, packaged foods, fried foods, and dairy products rich in saturated fats.
iii. Manage your weight.
Obesity plays a significant role in individuals developing elevated cholesterol levels. Losing about 10 pounds of weight can significantly help reduce your cholesterol levels.
iv. Seek medical attention.
If you are diagnosed with elevated levels of cholesterol, your doctor can prescribe drugs for you. These will typically be statins, like fluvastatin (Lescol) and atorvastatin (Lipitor), which work by preventing your liver from producing cholesterol. They are also likely to recommend that you quit certain vices like smoking.
The Risks High Cholesterol Levels Pose
High levels of cholesterol can pose a danger to your life. If left unmanaged, high cholesterol levels can lead to medical complications that can be expensive to treat and endanger your life. Some of the risks posed by soaring cholesterol levels include:
i. Heart attacks.
Elevated cholesterol levels can lead to heart attacks. Heart attacks are extremely dangerous and, in some instances, result in death.
ii. Chest pains.
If you have elevated levels of cholesterol in your body, you could experience chest pains. This is due to the thinning of arteries as fats are deposited in them, causing high blood pressure – a sign of coronary artery disease.
People with high levels of cholesterol are more prone to strokes. A stroke results from blood clots that prevent blood flow into parts of your brain.