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High Cholesterol Levels: Prevention and Treatment
High cholesterol has become an increasing threat to many people. This is because many changes have affected our daily lives that have led to a partially sedentary lifestyle. Exercise, which is an important factor in preventing high cholesterol level, is practiced by individuals. All these events have caused an increase in the incidence of hypercholesterolemia.
Hypercholesterolemia refers to a blood cholesterol measurement >200 mg/dl. A normal total cholesterol level is 150-199 mg/dl. Cholesterol is not a dangerous substance. It is only harmful when its level is higher than normal. Cholesterol has the following functions in the human body: +
1. It is involved in the regulation of many important body hormones such as sex hormones.
2. It is important for the production of bile acids, which break down fats.
3. It is an important part of the cell membrane of each cell.
4. Cholesterol is part of the myelin sheath that covers the nerves. This sheath protects the axon, which helps in the efficient transmission of nerve impulses.
Now let’s talk about hypercholesterolemia.
The problem with high cholesterol is the increased risk for arteriosclerosis and heart disease.
What causes hypercholesterolemia?
It may be primarily due to:
3. Food intake
Or it may occur secondarily because:
1. Diabetes mellitus (if poorly controlled)
3. Kidney safety
4. Medicines like oral contraceptives and steroids
Hypercholesterolemia is asymptomatic and is detected only by a blood test.
Is there good and bad cholesterol?
Yes there is. HDL cholesterol is good because it removes excess cholesterol from the blood vessels and transports it to the liver where it is broken down. Thus a high level of HDL reduces the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
VLDL, LDL and IDL are called bad cholesterol because they can be deposited on the walls of blood vessels and form plaque that can block arteries.
What can we do to avoid high cholesterol?
A balanced low-fat diet and maintaining a healthy body weight are the best ways to prevent high cholesterol. Saturated (animal) fats, including egg yolks and whole-milk dairy products, increase LDL. Monounsaturated fats—such as olive, canola, or peanut oils—and fiber can lower cholesterol levels. Besides daily exercise for 30 minutes will increase the level of HDL and lower LDL and triglycerides.
What is the treatment of hypercholesterolemia?
Lines of control include lifestyle changes and diet (as described above). Medicines used are:
1. Statins (most common)
2. Bile acid sequestering resin
3. Cholesterol absorption inhibitors
Total cholesterol (normal): 150-199 mg/dl
Total cholesterol (borderline elevated): 200-239 mg/dl
Total cholesterol (high) > 240 mg/dl
HDL (normal) > 40 mg/dl
HDL (borderline low): 35-39 mg/dl
HDL (low) <35 mg/dl
LDL (normal) <130 mg/dl
LDL (borderline elevated): 131-159 mg/dl
LDL (elevated) > 160 mg/dl
Triglycerides (normal) <160 mg/dl
Bottom line, a fasting lipoprotein profile is recommended every five years.
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