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High cholesterol    

Cholesterol is defined as the fatlike waxy substance that is required by the body for it to function normally. Cholesterol is found naturally in the membranes or cell walls all over the body including the nerves, muscles, brain, liver, intestines, skin and heart. Cholesterol is used by the body to produce various hormones, bile acids and vitamin D which is required to digest fats. Sometimes people tend to have excessive cholesterol in their blood stream and this excess is deposited in the arteries which also include the coronary arteries of the heart, the arteries that supply blood to the legs and the carotid arteries to the brain. Excessive cholesterol gets deposited in these arteries causing a narrowing or blockage of the arteries and may also result in medical problems such as coronary heart disease, stroke, chest pain and a heart attack.

High cholesterol also tends to at times completely block an artery which then stops the flow of blood especially to the heart resulting in a heart attack wherein the heart muscle cells die on account of lack of nutrients and oxygen. High cholesterol levels are usually more common in women older than 55 years and men younger than 55 yrs of age. The risk of high cholesterol tends to increase with age. High cholesterol levels may be on account of various factors such as diet, lifestyle, heredity or even on account of underlying illnesses  which affect the liver, kidney and thyroid. Sometimes genes may also influence how the body will metabolize LDL or bad cholesterol and may result in high cholesterol levels and heart disease in individuals. Similarly high cholesterol may also be on account of excessive weight or obesity in some individuals which may occur on account of eating high cholesterol foods on a regular basis. In such cases it is advisable that the individual increase their level of physical activity or exercise which tends to lower the levels of triglycerides and thereby raise the level of good cholesterol or HDL.

Many dieticians and medical professionals will also put an individual suffering from high cholesterol on a high cholesterol diet. A high cholesterol diet plan include those foods that raise the level of good cholesterol in the body and lower the level of bad cholesterol. Individual who regularly consume alcohol in large quantities are also at a higher risk of high cholesterol along with heart and liver disease. Another cause for high cholesterol is mental stress wherein people who are stressed out tend to console themselves by eating fatty foods which in turn increase the levels of blood cholesterol. High cholesterol does not usually manifest itself in the form of any prominent symptoms however some of the commonly observed high cholesterol symptoms are pain and heaviness in the chest area, general fatigue, breathlessness and excess sweating or a feeling of uneasiness.

 High cholesterol  can be controlled and maintained at ideal levels by following a low fat diet, avoiding meat products, including foods that provide fiber or roughage in ones daily diet, increasing the intake of fresh drinking water and avoiding eating foods that are rich in sugar or refined flour. High cholesterol medications usually include statins which are the most widely used and effective medicines used to treat high cholesterol. Statins are also known to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Before consuming any high cholesterol medication, it’s recommended that the individual should try following a healthy high cholesterol diet combined with regular exercise for at least 3 months to try and get the cholesterol levels to a manageable limit. However those suffering from coronary heart disease should start consuming high cholesterol medication at the earliest as prescribed by their doctor.

Submitted on January 16, 2014