Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is essential for all of us. The liver produces and utilises this fatty substance, which circulates in the blood.
It is vital for the synthesis of bile acids, vitamin D, and hormones, all of which help in food digestion. Notably, cholesterol is an essential part of every cell membrane in the body.
Excessive cholesterol levels in your blood are known as “hyperlipidemia”. They are the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes. According to CDC data, from 2015 to 2018, nearly 29 million Americans aged 20 and older had high cholesterol.
Based on scientific research, this article highlights important facts about high cholesterol that you need to know.
High Cholesterol – An Overview
Hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol, occurs when your blood contains excessive fat (lipids). However, certain kinds of cholesterol are necessary for good health. Cholesterol is crucial for critical physiological processes in your body.
Cholesterol can get divided into two categories: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good cholesterol,” and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol”. Adults with total blood cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher are considered to have high cholesterol levels.
If your body has excessive “bad cholesterol” or LDL cholesterol, the walls of your blood vessels can become clogged. Atherosclerosis results from this extra cholesterol accumulating in your arteries and forming fatty deposits known as “plaques.” This buildup can restrict and eventually prevent blood flow to and from your heart and other organs by narrowing the blood vessels. When blood flow to the heart becomes restricted, angina (chest pain) and a heart attack or stroke can occur.
The “good cholesterol,” or high-density lipoproteins (HDL), transports cholesterol from other body parts back to your liver. After that, the liver flushes it out of the body. As a result, HDL cholesterol levels may be a biomarker for heart disease prevention.
High Cholesterol: How Common Is It?
Most of the time, high cholesterol has no symptoms. As a result, you might not be aware that your cholesterol levels are beyond the normal range, which can lead to cardiovascular disorders like heart attack and stroke. In addition, it can lead to complications due to excessive cholesterol accumulation.
More than 4 out of every 10 Americans have high total cholesterol in the United States. A third of every ten Americans also have LDL cholesterol levels of 130 mg/dL or above. And nearly two out of every ten Americans have an HDL level of less than 40 mg/dL.
According to the WHO, high cholesterol is estimated to cause 2.6 million deaths worldwide. In 2008, 39% of people globally (37% of men and 40% of women) had high total cholesterol. Additionally, high cholesterol is a contributing factor in one-third of ischemic heart disease cases.
It suggests that total cholesterol, a risk factor for ischemic heart disease and stroke, is a significant factor in the disease burden in both developed and developing nations.
High Cholesterol: The Causes and Effects
Cholesterol levels can rise in healthy young people as well. Older people are indeed more likely to develop high cholesterol. As you age, your metabolism alters, and your liver is less able to eliminate LDL cholesterol. Having more body weight can also increase risks because it reduces the body’s ability to eliminate LDL cholesterol.
Cholesterol levels can affect even young, healthy people, especially if they come from a family with a history of heart disease or high cholesterol.
Additionally, a person’s genetic makeup may make it more difficult for their body to eliminate LDL cholesterol. As a result, people might have higher cholesterol levels even if they are physically active and healthy.
Everyone should routinely have their cholesterol examined, regardless of age or health status. The American Heart Association advises that children between 9 and 11 have their cholesterol checked.
For people over 20, it is good to check cholesterol levels at least once every four to six years. However, if a person is taking medication or has other risk factors, they could require additional testing.
According to the NIH, the cholesterol level chart below shows healthy cholesterol levels by age.
- Anyone 19 or younger: less than 170 mg/dl
- Men aged 20 or above: 125-200 mg/dl
- Women aged 20 or above: 125-200 mg/dl
- Anyone 19 or younger: less than 120 mg/dl
- Men aged 20 or above: less than 130 mg/dl
- Women aged 20 or older: less than 130 mg/dl
- Anyone 19 or younger: less than 100 mg/dl
- Men aged 20 or above: less than 100 mg/dl
- Women aged 20 or above: less than 100 mg/dl
- Anyone 19 or younger: more than 45 mg/dl
- Men aged 20 or above: 40 mg/dl
- Women aged 20 or above: 50 mg/dl
Getting your cholesterol tested regularly helps determine if you have high cholesterol. A 240 mg/dL or higher cholesterol level comes under “dangerously high cholesterol levels.” An average cholesterol level is less than 200 mg/dL. Between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children have total cholesterol levels under 170 mg/dl.
Ways to Manage High Cholesterol
You can do several things to lower your cholesterol and keep it healthy. Some can make heart-healthy lifestyle changes to lower their cholesterol levels. Others may require medication.
Read more: How to Reduce and Control High Cholesterol?
You can do the following things to manage your cholesterol level:
- Exercising: Adults should engage in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
- Quitting Smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels and hardens arteries, drastically increasing heart disease risk. If you don’t smoke or stop, your risk of developing heart disease will be lower.
- Eating Healthier Foods: Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats. Instead, pick dietary options naturally high in fibre and unsaturated fats.
- Adequate Sleep: Sleep a minimum of seven hours every night.
- Lose Weight: shedding some pounds to get to a healthy weight
- Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
- Avoid Stress
- At least every five years, get your cholesterol tested.
The HealthifyMe Note
If your cholesterol level is dangerously high, you may increase your heart disease and stroke risk. Knowing how other factors, like food and family history, affect your risk is crucial because some people are more prone to develop heart disease than others. If that is the case, you will need to continue practising a healthy lifestyle. You will also need to continue taking your medication and attending follow-up appointments with your provider. On the other hand, you may not have serious health issues if you and your doctor can control your cholesterol level.
Maintaining Healthy Cholesterol Levels like a PRO
We need to make small changes in our lifestyle to stay healthy. One such change is reducing saturated fat intake. In addition to lifestyle modifications, some require interventions through medications to maintain healthy cholesterol. While taking medications recommended by your primary care physician can be helpful, you may also get the most out of these medications by altering your lifestyle.
Discuss your medical history and lifestyle choices with your nutritionist. Your healthcare provider will devise a plan to lower your cholesterol levels.
The easiest way to improve overall health and fitness is to sign up for the HealthifyMe app. Speaking with the qualified coaches at HealthifyMe can help you understand the diet and lifestyle implications in depth.
Additionally, thanks to more than 60 parameters in the metabolic panel testing in the most recent version of this app, HealthifyPro 2.0, you get real-time information about your health. You can design your meals and lifestyle according to your blood glucose levels and health parameters with the help of qualified nutritionists.
HealthifyMe, India’s leading digital health and fitness platform, creates highly individualised, tried-and-true diet plans based on your current health status. After signing up, you can choose a health and fitness coach who works to lower your cholesterol levels.
As a result, millions of customers can benefit from a wide range of premium options to help them accomplish their objectives.
The effects of food and activities vary from person to person. Indeed, even while pursuing food-related choices, you can use HealthifyPRO as an aide.
HealthifyMe also provides users with information and encourages them to make educated decisions. As a result, it makes it possible for you to live a healthy life.
With a one-on-one consultation with a HealthifyMe health coach, you can develop a dietary and exercise plan tailored to your specific health requirements. In addition, you can use HealthifyPRO and HealthifyPRO 2.0 to monitor your diet, activity, and other health-related factors to find out what you are doing right and wrong to lower your cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol is silent but fatal. You may be unaware that you have had it in your blood for a long time. There are no symptoms of high cholesterol levels. The only way to find out is with a quick blood test.
High cholesterol affects people of all ages, including those who exercise regularly and are in good health. Lifestyle changes are the only way to control high cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium intake is crucial for cholesterol reduction.
Additionally, smoking is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease and blood vessel issues. Therefore, quit smoking and using tobacco products.