Cholesterol is a natural substance that is made by the liver and plays a critical role in various functions throughout the body. It is a fat like substance that every human body needs. A certain amount of cholesterol is required by the body to form a cell membrane, hormones and Vitamin D. It plays a vital role in the normal working of the cells throughout the body and it is used by the body to make other vital chemicals as well. But, having too much cholesterol in the bloodstream increases the risk of heart disease. Most of the cholesterol in the blood is made by the liver from a wide variety of foods, primarily from saturated fat. Cholesterol travels in the body in small packets fat known as lipoproteins. There are two main types of lipoproteins that are carried to the blood.
- Low Density Lipoprotein - LDL is also known as bad cholesterol. It carries cholesterol to the bloodstream and the tissues where the body stores it. High low-density lipoprotein leads to the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries and increases the risk of heart disease. It causes clog arteries and in time, the plaques cause the arteries to narrow or block completely.
- High Density Lipoprotein - HDL is also known as good cholesterol. It carries cholesterol away from the tissues so that it can be filtered out of the body. The extra cholesterol is returned to the liver so that it can be passed out as a waste. Higher the HDL cholesterol level, less the chances of developing heart disease.
Triglycerides are essential fats that are transported in the bloodstream with the cholesterol and they play an important role in providing the energy to the body. Triglycerides can be obtained from two sources, firstly what we eat and secondly what the liver makes. Triglycerides are vital but high triglyceride levels are linked to various health problems and it decreases high density lipoprotein.
High blood cholesterol, also known as hyperlipidemia is linked to various health problems and it has a direct effect on the cardiovascular system. It is a major risk factor for stroke and heart attack. High blood cholesterol is associated with various complications such as:
Atherosclerosis is a medical disorder in which the plaque builds up inside the arteries that carry oxygen rich blood to the heart and other parts of the body. Too much cholesterol in the body can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries and over time, plaque narrows the arteries and reduces the blood flow to the organs of the body and as a result, an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Atherosclerosis not only affect the heart but it can affect the arteries of any body part, including brain, arms, legs, and pelvis. Some other factors that can cause atherosclerosis include, smoking, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, and family history.
Coronary heart disease
Altered level of cholesterol is the major risk factor that contributes to the occurrence of coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease affects the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. It causes the arteries to become too clogged that it interferes with the functioning of the heart. Coronary heart disease is one of the causes of deaths in the United States.
There is a strong relationship between cholesterol level and the development of diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease which is characterized by a very high blood sugar level. It is of two types, diabetes type 1 in which is characterized by the lack of insulin production and diabetes type 2 which results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. High blood cholesterol leads to a decrease in the high density lipoprotein and low level of HDL cholesterol are consistently associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes type 2. HDL cholesterol stimulates the insulin secretion and modulates glucose uptake on the body.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
A peripheral vascular disease is a common yet serious medical disorder and it occurs when the extra cholesterol circulating in the blood collect in the walls of the arteries that supply blood. Cholesterol causes the arteries to become narrow and causes plaque. Over time, the flow of blood through the arteries is blocked and alters the functioning of the body.
Ways to manage cholesterol
Altered cholesterol levels could be the result of various risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. As stated above, high cholesterol is linked to many cardiovascular diseases, therefore it is essential to manage and control cholesterol levels. Some tips to improve cholesterol include:
- Stop smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do regular physical exercise
- Limit animal fat
- Eat more fiber
- Limit the consumption of alcohol
Managing and controlling cholesterol is not a heavy task and it can be done by adopting some healthy lifestyle habits. Share this post with your family and friends to create awareness. Stay Safe, Stay Healthy !!