Cholesterol is one of the essential components and building material needed for the production of cells and serves many important functions in the body. However, it is very important that the normal levels of cholesterol are maintained in the body. Nature has devised a system of check and balance within the body that serves to maintain level of cholesterol within optimum range.
Risk factors for High Blood Cholesterol levels:
There are a few conditions in the body that leads to high blood cholesterol levels, mainly due to failure of scavenger mechanisms.
- Genetic association: There are of inherited diseases in which metabolism of cholesterol is abnormal and despite normal dietary intake, cholesterol levels tend to stay on higher side.
- Sedentary life-style: Sedentary life-style is becoming very common now a days and is directly associated with causing high blood cholesterol levels. Sedentary life-style refers to lack of physical activity, which also causes obesity, diabetes and thrombus (clot) formation in veins of legs and brain.
- Diet: Diet has a very strong impact on our cholesterol levels. With high consumption of processed fats, oily meals and diet low in fiber, chances of developing high blood cholesterol also increases.
How high blood cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart diseases?
Cholesterol is transported via blood to liver and other parts of the body. These fat droplets can pass through easily from large arteries; however arteries supplying blood to heart have narrow caliber and these fat droplets get stuck in the lumen of these arteries. With time, the lumen or opening of the blood vessels get progressively narrowed. The narrowing of the blood veseel is a slow process and nothing seems evident in the beginning. But progressively it gets worse and is manifested with a gradual decline in the functional activity of a person. For example, after vigorous physical activity, if you feel pain in the chest, it’s an early sign of beginning stages of heart disease.
After the small fat droplets get stuck to the wall of blood vessels or arteries of heart, it continues to get bigger due to accumulation of cellular debris and more fat droplets until the artery gets fully blocked at some point leading to a full blown heart disease. When heart disease due to arterial problem develops, the overall quality of life is greatly affected as even mild physical activity or even no activity may elicit chest pain, increased heart rate or even unconsciousness. If left untreated, it can result in heart attack and may even lead to death of the person.
What can you do to minimize the risk of heart diseases?
If you have positive family history of heart diseases, high blood cholesterol or diabetes, you must exceptionally control your blood cholesterol levels. You must keep your total blood cholesterol level under 180 mg/dL. Without the risk factors the normal range is 200mg/dL. According to latest recommendation, every man and woman must get their blood cholesterol checked on yearly basis after the age of 45 years.
Following tips may also help in maintaining blood cholesterol levels:
- Increasing the fiber content of your diet
- Avoiding intake of bad cholesterol from all possible food sources like red meat, egg yolks etc.
- Maintaining ideal body weight and body mass index (measure of ideal weight according to height) under normal reference range.
- Following a regular exercise plan
- Controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining ideal blood pressure values.