What is Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a precursor of vitamin D3 involved in bone calcification, steroid hormones, sex steroid hormones and bile salts. It is a constituent of the wall of our cells.
Where Does Cholesterol Come From?
It is mostly produced by the liver (3/4) and the rest comes from the diet. It is found in products of animal origin at very variable rates: meat, offal, dairy products, crustaceans, shellfish, fish, eggs, etc.
What Is Good and Bad Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is not soluble in the blood, so it uses specific transporters: lipoproteins. But these particles are of two types:
High Density Lipoprotein or HDL:
The high density lipoprotein (HDL) represents the “good” cholesterol, the one for which it is preferable to obtain strong values. The higher the blood levels of HDL-cholesterol, the lower the risk of atherosclerosis;
Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL:
The low density lipoprotein (LDL) represents “bad” cholesterol and it is good to have low levels of LDL-cholesterol. The probability of atherosclerosis is, in fact, even stronger than the value of LDL-cholesterol is high.
How Do You Know If You Have Too Much Cholesterol?
Cholesterol circulates freely in the blood, so it can be easily dosed through a simple blood test. We can first dose the total cholesterol (good cholesterol + bad cholesterol). If this balance proves disrupted (higher than 2g / l and triglycerides higher than 2 g / l), the doctor will ask for a more in-depth assessment with the determination of bad cholesterol and good cholesterol.
In case of cardiovascular risk associated, the doctor can proceed from the outset to a thorough dosage.
What Are The Values Of Normal Cholesterol Levels In Adults?
Normal values of cholesterol levels in adults are:
- Total Cholesterol <2g / L
- LDL Cholesterol (Bad Cholesterol) <1.6 g / l
- HDL Cholesterol (Good Cholesterol) > 0.35 g / l
Be careful, if the patient combines other risk factors, the treatment may start at lower values.
What Is Hypercholesterolemia?
The total cholesterol level must be less than 2g / l. Above this threshold, we speak of hypercholesterolemia. However, there are three types of hypercholesterolemia, depending on whether the excess is limited to cholesterol or triglyceride associated (another category of lipids, which is associated with cardiovascular risk, but less clear than cholesterol).
Different forms of hypercholesterolemia:
- Pure hypercholesterolemia – Excess cholesterol in the blood
- Mixed hypercholesterolemia – Increased cholesterol and triglycerides
- Isolated hypercholesterolemia – Excess triglycerides
What Are The Possible Complications?
Excess cholesterol is deposited on the walls of the arteries including those of the heart (coronary arteries), forming fatty plaques that thicken over the years (atherosclerosis).
The arteries of the heart are particularly affected. Plates reduce their size, make the passage of blood more and more difficult and can promote clot formation (thrombosis). When the blood does not pass, the cells, deprived of oxygen, die. It is the ischemic stroke which, according to the obstructed artery, causes myocardial infarction or stroke.
What Are The Causes Of This Excess Cholesterol?
The causes can be of four:
Genetic and Hereditary Factors:
Although hypercholesterolemia is not transmitted systematically from father to son (except for some rare family forms), we often find several cases within the same family;
A diet too rich in cholesterol and so-called saturated fats from animal fats, certain meats and milk fatty derivatives has a direct influence on cholesterol levels. An excess of alcohol would also have a detrimental effect;
Kidney Disease, Thyroid Disease or Diabetes:
Some diseases can be directly responsible for high cholesterol levels.
Some classes of drugs are likely to increase your cholesterol: oral contraceptives (estroprogesterone pills), thiazide diuretics, and some anti-acne, anti-psoriasics, cortisone, etc. The risks of hypercholesterolemia they cause are only taken into account in the case of associated cardiovascular risks.
A healthy diet low in fat almost always results in lower cholesterol levels. If healthy eating, physical activity, and other changes have had no effect after six months, your family doctor may want to prescribe medication to lower your cholesterol level. It is a treatment for life; it must be considered only if good habits have not worked.
Lowering your cholesterol levels by eating healthy, low-fat foods is easier than you think. It is a matter of common sense and willingness to improve one’s health. You do not have to stop eating your favorite foods, but maybe eat less often or replace them with healthier choices.
Also See: Benefits of maintaining a health weight
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